British researchers have succeeded in constructing an aircraft that is partly an airship and partly an aircraft. In other words, half the time it is heavier than the air and half the time easier. The change between these two states in turn provides the necessary boost. The expert speaks of a buoyancy drive. According to the researchers, it is the first time in the world that the technology has been used successfully in aviation. But it was still pure test flights over a distance of only 120 meters. However, Phoenix will be able to operate at a height of up to 20,000 meters and remain permanently in the air.
The swim bladder of fish served as a model
The ascent of the aircraft takes place because helium is in the fuselage. In this point – and in appearance – Phoenix is reminiscent of a classic Zeppelin. In addition, however, air can be pumped into an airbag via a compressor. This makes the flying object heavier than the air and starts to slide down. This principle is similar to the swim bladder used by fish. At the same time, Phoenix releases the compressed air to the rear and creates an additional recoil. The compressor and some other devices on board are electrically operated. The energy required for this can be generated directly on site using solar modules on the wings.
The aircraft could serve as a pseudo satellite
The engineers involved therefore assume that the flying object with the new drive can theoretically remain indefinitely in the air. The possible applications are accordingly varied. Thus, it is intended to transmit in this way communication signals. Google and Facebook had already done research in the past and tested huge balloons and big solar planes. Both projects have since been discontinued . The buoyancy drive could provide a new impulse here. At the same time, the successors of the prototype Phoenix could also be used to launch rockets at high altitude. However, the researchers involved are currently looking for a partner from industry.
Via: New Atlas