One hundred years ago, television, the Internet, and cell phones were beyond comprehension for everybody but dreamers. For all the science fiction portrayals of dystopia or utopia, humanity has so far soldiered on an unpredictable, and unsustainable path. It is unlikely this planet could sustain another thousand years of mining, drilling, and pillaging of resources while humanity grows at an exponential rate. What the future will really look like is anybody’s guess.
One fanciful, futuristic idea is that of green airships powered by an algae-based bio-hydrogen. Called the Hydrogenase and looking like an unopened leaf, could this be clean transportation for the future?
The vertical standing airship is part housing, part balloon, and part airborne skyscraper. Designed by Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut, it has the proportions and shape of a skyscraper, standing 1,300 feet tall. The Hydrogenase fuels by sitting on top of seaweed farms, which fill its four separate air bladders with biologically made hydrogen. Each skyship would be divided into housing, offices, science labs, and entertainment areas, though I imagine if anything like this were ever built, it’d have more specific tasks. Callebaut imagines such an airship could carry 200 tons of cargo, and have a top speed of 110 mph. If you’re a fan of the Venture Brothers cartoon, you might see some resemblance to the Monarch’s cocoon.
The twenty turbo-prop engines can tilt horizontally on lift off, and take the airship to a height of 6,500 feet, which would limit where it could go, what with mountains and all in the way. But if Callebaut could design it to tilt 90 degrees during cruising speeds, like a traditional airship, it might actually be able to achieve a respectable speed. Of course, that brings up a whole slew of other problems, but this is all speculation anyway. The only realistic aspect of this whole thing is that we might actually have hydrogen-powered vehicles one day, and that hydrogen could be produced by algae.
Even though I love airships, I don’t think the rest of the world cares much for them. Maybe we will never get over the Hindenburg disaster, but it is still nice to dream.