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Old Jan 10, 2013, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Ed Couch View Post
Same song and dance. Show the folks some of your vehicles that you are flying with hydrogen on board. I would be interested is seeing how you do things and handle the material to make a 10 to 30 foot vehicle fly indoors or out it makes no difference. There is a old saying in my neck of the woods that says "put up or shut up". Its time to drop the subject as a waste of time before someone is seriously hurt. Check the attached from another discussion, damn it did go boom. ed

Ed, it's been stated in this thread alone no less than four times that it takes OXYGEN in combination with hydrogen to create an explosion risk, yet you refuse to let this basic fact sink in and instead post a video that even clearly states in the title that the balloon is filled with a mixture of hydrogen AND oxygen-- as if this was representative of what could happen with a bag filled only with hydrogen.

Your voluntary ignorance of basic chemistry is no reason for everyone else to abandon all consideration of using hydrogen. If I had an RC blimp and a source of pure hydrogen I would certainly use it, but I have neither at the moment. But even if I did, it would not prove anything. If you want video proof, then watch the video that powerblimp posted which shows a bag of pure hydrogen being ignited, as opposed to the misleading video you posted yourself.

Note that pure oxygen is also a very reactive gas that is very flammable and can even spontaneously ignite if it comes into contact with certain types of hydrocarbons, yet people safely use it all the time for welding, scuba diving, aviation etc. Acetylene/oxygen is a more explosive mixture that burns at a hotter temperature than even the hydrogen/oxygen mixture and yet it gets used by the general public every day for welding. Risk only requires precautions, not blind fear and irrational abandonment.
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 01:17 PM
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Simple fact is at this time you have no basis of practical knowledge. You have never created the device discussed nor flown a vehicle of the type in discussion. How honestly can you give someone advise on handling such. Things don't always work exactly by "the book". When working with connectors and batteries sparks happens and motors spark as a matter of course. Unless every thing is perfectly engineered you can fall into the same trap many have before and someone will eventually get hurt.

You use the term "ignorance" and I state up front that the video shows a worst case experiment or condition but so does the other video shows a perfect all pretty and rosey set. Its still the ying and yang set up. Always show both sides. To many times on this thread statements are made on second hand knowledge and not practical experience and it constantly leads the unaware astray. What may be technically correct is not always practical in application.

Alex will again have to make the decision based off the information he has derived from this and other descussions and go from there. I'm not here to sling mud at anyone but unless you have been there and done it be careful with what you say. As to being ignorant 40 plus years in avaition as an avionics and weapons system engineer for Vought and Lockheed Martin plus over 60 years in modeling might cause one to look somewhere else.
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Old Jan 11, 2013, 11:16 PM
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Sorry Ed, you just don't come off as an engineer. Engineers don't try to shut down discussions over vague fears. Engineers debate the pros and cons of a given idea and then present possible scenarios to support which side they they believe is best, they don't request that everyone just stop talking about it. That kind of "the debate has been settled" mentality would be expected from pseudo "scientists" and other adherents to the global warming cult and similar bastions of junk science, but has no place in real scientific or engineering discourse.

The argument is that a bag of pure hydrogen does not present an explosion risk. This is fact, not "second hand information." I have also verified this myself, both in the chemistry lab and with my own experiments making hydrogen. It is well documented, proven and indisputable. You can not argue that a bag of X is explosive by showing a video of Y blowing up, when X and Y are two different things. A bag of pure hydrogen is not a "rosey" scenario, it is THE scenario being discussed. Your worst case experiment is comparing apples and oranges. If you want to fly hydrogen, you have to fly pure hydrogen. If you can't do that, then don't try it.
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 09:32 AM
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Alex

Whichever way you chose to go just be careful but most of all have fun. The arguments discussed are all valid and show concerns both ways. We can discuss this more but honestly its not necessary. Make a call and go with it. If you do get a hydrogen filled electric air vehicle flying (not just a balloon) please post it here. I would love to see what you have done as would the rest of us. Again enjoy. ed
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 09:39 AM
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I had an interesting discussion on Friday with my local Airgas dealer. I flew a blimp for a CHL hockey team from 98 to 2002. We used a T bottle per game; 44 bottles for the season.

Got into start up discussions for our NBA team and the airgas manager in OKC said he could barely get enough helium to keep his current customers supplied and that he hasn't had a new helium customer in TWO YEARS! The gas I was paying $104 a bottle ten years ago is now $240 IF you can find some! Wow didn't know things were that bad.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 12:57 PM
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Tom

It is bad right now as most companies will not release any helium to individuals/companies without being prior clients. Its almost impossible to get through normal sources. This season along I have brought six new airships on line for various clients and just got another request from the Dallas Mavericks this morning. As you I have used as much as 50 to 55 bottles a season for three ships at the AAC and this was keeping them inflated on the ceiling of the arena. Now these new ships just don't leak that much and all the older ships have since been retired in long term storage. I am now just bringing a new 18 footer on line for the Dallas Stars for the late season start and have only two bottles to work with at this time. For me as a business it hurts in the long run as the teams are responsible for acquiring the helium even though I have to do the leg work. Its a red ass to have to worry about finding the gas. I turn down outside work now and its cost me at least 25 K already this season. I figure I am good for another season and then I plan on passing the business to one of my pilots and let them go for it. Honestly its not going to get any better.

ed
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 08:55 PM
SlingWinger
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Please forgive me for asking what may be a stoopid question:
Why can't the helium be pumped from the blimp and compressed back into the tank?
From what I gather reading this thread it seems that even if you only recovered some of it you'd be ahead.
It's obvious that it must be impractical or you'd be doing it, but I'm curious as heck why.
Thank you, Steve
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 10:43 PM
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The cost of putting the Geni back in the bottle has not been cost effective. Its been tried many times without satisfactory results. I have seen helium pumped via a floor vac from one vehicle to another but that takes a bit of time and can be done but getting it back in the actual container again is something else. To fill a bottle to 2000 or 2500 psi takes some very expensive pumps and hardware to work. Up until this year its just not been worth it.

I was told last week by one of my local gas dealers that helium was starting to show up more so than 6 months ago. Several of the major oil refineries and gas companies have modified their cracking process and capturing the helium as a by product of refining the oil to gas. The old helium from prior to 1950 or so as a war reserve is pretty much used up. Cost will double and triple in many cases in near future. Toy helium filled balloons will become a things of the past as I feel my advertising airship/blimp business will take a big hit as well. May be its just time to retire and go set in the corner and watch the world fly by or at least spend a lot more time at the flying field. NOTT!!! ed
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Old Jan 19, 2013, 11:04 PM
SlingWinger
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"May be its just time to retire and go set in the corner and watch the world fly by or at least spend a lot more time at the flying field. NOTT!!! ed"

Well, maybe if advertising blimps become too expensive to operate, some other means of aerial advertising might work.
Towing a banner behind a plane might not be so bad.

Which reminds me: One time some years ago I was at a beach, and there was a Northwest post-frontal breeze blowing along at a pretty good clip. This wind was parallel to the beach, and someone flying a Cub type plane was pulling a banner into the wind, and had maybe only a 20kt groundspeed. I got to thinking a guy could have used a boat to pull a large kite with a banner behind it.
I admit to not looking into it further though.
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Old Jan 20, 2013, 11:04 AM
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If the toy balloon people would just stop using helium then the price would come down because demand would drop way off. They are the ones squandering the valuable gas on a large scale for a frivolous purpose for which hydrogen could easily be substituted. Normally I'm the last person in favor of government intervention on anything, but a ban on using helium for toy balloons might help solve the shortage problem. If demand dropped off too much though then it could backfire and result in the refining companies not even bothering to capture helium.

It's ironic that the 2nd most abundant element in the universe is so dang hard to find!
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 03:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pyronaught View Post
If the toy balloon people would just stop using helium then the price would come down because demand would drop way off. They are the ones squandering the valuable gas on a large scale for a frivolous purpose for which hydrogen could easily be substituted. Normally I'm the last person in favor of government intervention on anything, but a ban on using helium for toy balloons might help solve the shortage problem. If demand dropped off too much though then it could backfire and result in the refining companies not even bothering to capture helium.

It's ironic that the 2nd most abundant element in the universe is so dang hard to find!
Be careful what you ask for.We just might get it.Im pretty sure there is a large percentage of the population that sees our blimps as nothing more than big"toy balloons". If you/we want to do something really constructive it would be to get as many or all interests that use helium not only for fun but as more or less a commercial necessity for the continued viability of various business interests.
Medical is a big one.Electronics manufacture.Deep sea diving.Lighter than air ships and other balloons.Plus Im sure there are a few other interests that dont come to mind off the top of my head.Lobby the gas producers directly as a group or as is probably necessary lobby legislative forces to pressure the natural gas industry to get more aggressive with recovery equip at all natural gas facilities.The logic was that this is what would happen before demand outstripped supply by being driven purely by market forces without any kind of forced intervention.This clearly hasnt happened.
Blaming the problem on "toy balloons" IMO is a shortsighted answer to a complex situation.

P.S. Are you really sure it would be a good idea to have a bunch of little kids running around with balloons full of hydrogen? IIRC one of the funnest things to do with party balloons when I was a kid was to rub it in your hair and see how much static you could produce.They seemed to pop fairly regularly.Near your head with a bunch of static present.I can see it now.
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 09:48 AM
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Not every natural gas deposit contains helium. In fact, barely any of them do. Blaming the natural gas industry for not trying hard enough just displays a complete lack of understanding of the entire problem. Given the high price that helium fetches, companies don't need any heavy-handed government mandates to recover it. The more rare it becomes, the higher the price gets and the harder companies will try to recover it. Reovery methods that were once too expensive to justify become justifiable, which is why we now have more recovery plants in the process of coming online. However, you can't recover what isn't there to begin with, and that's the real problem.
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Old Jan 25, 2013, 01:50 PM
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I think there is some truth to your theory.Its my understanding that more or less all natural gas has some helium.The rub is that many have such a small percentage that the bean counters wont justify recovery unless there is a healthy enough profit margin.IMO what needs to happen at this point is to install recovery equip regardless of the margin of profit.There are some things in many industries that are this way.You do it because it is the right thing to do regardless of bottom line.
When it comes to limited resources and profit margins many times it takes a mandate to make the right thing happen.
This concept is fairly obvious in agriculture.Even less obvious in others.What generally happens though is that the small guys get pinched out of the equation and the huge operations find a way to absorb the increased costs and pass it on.
This is kind of a political question more than practical one and can turn into a huge argument so its probably better to just leave it be and work with what we have to work with.
The bottom line is that (for whatever reasons) demand has outstripped supply and we are all in a pinch.It wasnt my intention to try putting out a fire with gasoline.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 07:43 PM
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What about using METHANE? it is 1/2 the weight of air and a 1000 cubic foot would lift 15kg.


At about 4$ per 1000 cubic feet and readily available about any region of the US. I live in Pennsylvania where they now cap wells instead of producing until the price goes back up.


Is it too explosive? I know it does not have as much lift as Helium but just make the envelopes larger or maybe less thick (methane does not leak)?



Sorry If I am off topic but I remember as a kid producing methane just to inflate balloons ....that was after I tried to produce hydrogen and founding out how explosive it was.
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Old Jan 28, 2013, 09:02 PM
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I know very little about the use of methane as a lifting agent for our airships but what I have seen via the google net is what I suspect is basically the same as the discussion here of hydrogen. I quote:

"Methane is extremely flammable and will easily cause explosions. It can leak unnoticed into structures and spaces, and a tiny spark can ignite the undetected gas. Explosions from methane gas are extremely strong, and the damage is devastating. The explosions associated with methane gas are not limited to the space that has the highest concentration, but anywhere it has seeped. It may be in one room, or it can travel through an entire city block."

Working with electric motors and their constant sparking I believe I will stay clear of its use.

ed
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