Null Ship: Lighter-Than-Air Travel by Vacuum
The Vacuum Airship, or Null Ship, is a concept which has existed since at least the 17th century. The basic idea is to contain an empty volume within the aircraft, rather than filling that volume with a lighter-than-air gas such as hydrogen or helium, as is done in nearly all conventional airships. However, few, if any, rigid materials exist which are capable of withstanding the enormous pressure difference while still remaining light enough to achieve lift. My research project explores a new design innovation which may circumvent this new engineering hurdle. The Null Ship would be comprised of two concentric 'shells,' of non-porous fabric, connected by a series of evenly distributed support lines. The space between the two shells is pressurized so that the outer shell is forced to expand, simultaneously causing the central shell, containing the evacuated volume, to expand and remain open. A thorough analysis of the physics and math which would affect such an aircraft is the sole focus of this project, accompanied by summaries of each conclusion in the most accessible terms possible. The ultimate goal is to assess and discuss the feasibility of my new idea and further compare it to other designs. The presentation will include alternate designs which have been considered and, perhaps most importantly, an outline of future research and plans for constructing a prototype. Because of the unique and untested nature of my design, and because of the wide range of materials which need to be considered, analysis of the Null Ship is far from complete.