How It Works – Elevator Pitch
• A group of pilotless airships rises above the burning forest and hills, supporting the safe height. The group can stay there for days and weeks
• Each airship has a big carrying capacity and brings powerful equipment for wildfire elimination, which can cover with artificial rain the area of 1.3 mln. sq ft. at one time
• Infrared scanners and automation allow precisely direct airships to target. It allows to save water and time
• An intense water evaporation can be transformed to fog. This fog will keep the fire near the ground. Afterwards the condensed water can be used again
• The intensive irrigation of the forest area, which is not damaged by fire yet, creates a protective dewy zone. It helps to localize spreading of wildfire
The best position
Air is the best position to fight wildfires
In the difficult terrain of California, often the lack of suitable roads, as well as the need to fight fire without risk to people and equipment, the only way is to work at a height above the ground. However, this is hampered by the high cost of using firefighting aircraft and the limited duration of its presence in the air. Another disadvantage is incomparably small amounts of water and firefighting compositions that can be taken on board. Therefore, it is not possible to effectively deal with large-scale wildfires.
Lowest cost of lifting cargo into the air
As you know, the airship is the most inexpensive way to transport people and cargo by air. For more than 100 years, it have been successfully and safely operated all over the world, including USA. The design of the Furtherium airship is based on the inventions of Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, rocket scientist and pioneer of the astronautic theory. The latest technologies in engineering and electronics have allowed us to develop a unique model of the Furtherium aircraft, which includes the advantages of a semi-rigid hybrid air-helium airship with aerostatic discharge and the advantages of drones. This aircraft is able to stay in the air for several weeks and perform work with minimal operating costs. Namely, as part of a group of 40 or more airships, form an air bridge, as long as the Golden Gate Bridge (1.7 mile), along which to lift and spray water over a large area with the help of powerful high-performance pumps.
Safety for people and equipment
Each aircraft is equipped with an ADS-B transponder, certified by the FAA, which allows it to be seen by other aerial pilots and dispatchers, as well as receive their signals and transmit to the dispatcher of the ground airship control stations. Furtherium airships are unmanned aircraft and operate over the area where were evacuated. A special feature of their design is the multisection arrangement of a balloon with safe helium and air, which eliminates the loss of lifting force due to mechanical impact from the outside, as well as having a considerable reserve of lifting power of thermal aerostat and traction power of the propellers. In addition, all devices work in rigid coupling with each other and have lightning protection. These several independent factors reduce the risk of an aircraft crash to almost zero. During extinguishing a wildfire, devices operate at a safe level, even for a top wildfire, about 1000 feet above the surface.
Original aerodynamic shape
The shape of the dome of the airship in a vertical projection resembles the shape of a flying saucer, i.e. drive with zero wing lift. The device is able to withstand strong and gusty wind, as well as squally and storm wind due to its aerodynamic shape, size and weight. In the horizontal projection, the dome has the shape of a circle that allows you to effectively resist the wind, regardless of direction. Despite the fact that the airships are equipped with 4 rotary air drives and can move at speeds of up to 82 miles per hour, their main function is geostationary work at height and wind resistance.
Furtherium aircraft are hybrid airships and combine the properties of a helium airship and a thermal aerostat. They are aerostatically unloaded aircraft, that is, they are heavier than air during takeoff and landing. During the load that occurs after the water supply, the mass of the device is statically compensated by a thermal aerostat. The power of air drives in normal mode is not used to maintain altitude except for the situation of counteraction to the rising thermal air currents and air pockets. Basically, the power of the propellers is aimed at resisting horizontal wind loads.
Durable and flexible geodesic skeleton
Another unique feature of the airship is its external skeleton design, which forms a geodesic rigid structure, uniformly distributing mechanical forces and stresses, especially dynamic loads and impacts. At the same time, the mass and volume of the geodetic framework are quite insignificant relative to the mass and volume of the main engineering equipment located in the gondola of the airship.
The original form of the gondola in the shape of a pentagon allows the device to be as stable as possible when landing and off the ground, using 5, rather than 4 or 3 contact points (chassis) with the ground. The design of the gondola consists of several light segments that are assembled by hand. The gondola and the frame of the airship after assembly represent a single entity.
As in the drones, the Furtherium airship design uses 4 electric motors on neodymium magnets with a total capacity 528 kW, which have the best ratio of their own weight, torque at high speed and efficiency of more than 93%. Also used are three-bladed propellers with a length of 4 feet made of composite materials with a perimeter speed of 1033 ft / s, mass-produced for turboprop aircraft. Together with the engines, they create static thrust over 6,000 lbs. Servo drives provide 360 degrees of rotation of the engines around the axis of attachment to the frame, which creates unique opportunities for maneuvering, which, along with aerostatic unloading of the apparatus, have no analogues in aeronautics today.
Attachments include a step-down transformer, cabinets with automatic controls, radar, antennas, battery pack, cable coil, heating equipment, controls and safety, including a thermal imaging and video cameras, avionics, motor and high-performance centrifugal double suction pump, electromagnetic regulating pipeline fittings, manipulator. On-board equipment also includes dispensers with environmentally friendly reagents based on silver iodide and dry carbon dioxide, the minimum amount of which is necessary to keep water evaporation near the ground, preventing the upper spread of fire, forming fog and condensing it again into precipitation. Artificial fog over the burning center will reduce harmful emissions of combustion products into the air. The mass of attachments is more than 90% of the total take-off weight. After the water supply to the fire hoses, the total take-off weight increases by 40-50%.
Damping in contact with the ground
At the time of take-off and landing, it has a great influence inequality dimensions of the dome and the gondola. Especially during strong winds, most airships in the world are most vulnerable. The design of furtherium significantly reduces the influence of these factors. Sophisticated suspension has a large power reserve, rigid and at the same time an easy landing gear structure and 5 points of contact with the ground. However, the main factor of soft takeoff and landing is air drives, which, using electronic measuring systems and automatic control algorithms ahead of inertia, coordinate the position of the aircraft along all 3 axes.
Splinker mechanism for irrigation
To ensure the dispersion of water over a large area, 10 special-shaped telescopic splinkers with a length of 40 feet each are provided with perforations, increasing towards the edge. When the airships are in the air and pressure is supplied through the fire hose, the distribution automatics are turned on and water is fed into the sprinkler mechanisms, which are pulled out 4 times in length in the form of a fan and form a large dispersion area, and then fold again when switching to suction. Considering angle of dispersion, working height and wind speed, the irrigated area at the surface of the earth increases several times.
Assembly speed and mobility
An important difference of this design is its mobility and compactness. Airship Furtherium does not need special hangars for each aircraft, like other airship models. The entire kit, including engineering equipment and spare parts, is stored and delivered to the launch site in containers. 40 sets of airships, helium tanks, HRRS helium compression system, diesel generators, diesel tanks for them, ground-based auxiliary equipment and additional pumps with a diesel drive on a trailer are all packaged and placed in 52-70 containers. Interesting fact: the airship helps to assemble and disassemble itself. In the assembly involved only 2 people. Time to build and prepare for launch 30-40 minutes. The ground service team of 16 people copes with the launch of 40 aircraft within 4-5 hours after the arrival of containers.
Power and autonomy of flight
Airships are connected to the mains on the ground. The kit of ground support fly includes 12-18 diesel generators AC 1,000-1,500 kVA, as well as frequency synchronization devices in order to reduce the number of step-up transformers and current cable runs 4-6 at 3,000-4,500 kVA. The main consumers of electricity are electric motors 200 kW for pumps and electric motors 132 kW for propellers, as well as thermal hair dryers. Due to the large amount of powerful equipment, the maximum load on the electrical network exceeds 23,000 kW. Therefore, the power supply system uses high voltage. Also included in the kit of the airship is a block of lithium-ion batteries for power during autonomous flight and maneuvering during takeoff and landing.
Flight in a group
Flight in a group
To complete the task and distribute a large amount of water over a large area, need to connect 40 or more airships in one line. To coordinate unmanned aircrafts, software and several communication lines are used, including Wi-Fi Direct. The software, based on the dispatcher's tasks, performs optimization tasks, calculates and sets synchronous GPS and altitude coordinates for the entire group, speed and motion vector, and the control automation in each airship performs task packages. Software algorithms using Machine Learning take into account the data of thermal imaging of the earth's surface, terrain, wind speed, ascending air flow.
A rigid coupling is necessary for even distribution of a large weight of fire hoses and electrical cables. It also serves as a protection against the collision of devices with each other, as they work close. In an emergency, with the help of a rigid coupling, the fall of one of the devices is prevented if, for any reason, it has lost most of the lifting force (a gap of more than half a ballonet and non-working air drives). Folded rigid coupling has a compact form, and does not interfere with the landing.
Ground control station
For control and management is used truck MAN TGS 26.480 6x6. This is a modification-transformer of the world-famous off-road expedition truck, which allows a team of 13 people to live and work inside it independently in conditions of strong smoke, heat, and zero visibility. Ergonomic residential unit, domestic premises, food and water supply allow working for 3 weeks away from civilization. Modern navigation systems and avionics from leading manufacturers, along with software for managing a group of airships, provide unmanned operation of 40 or more aircrafts. For reconnaissance, drones with thermal imaging cameras and video cameras are used.
The team consists of 17 people: the commander, 2 senior dispatchers, 4 dispatchers, 2 electrical engineers, 2 system engineers, 2 driver, 2 logisticians and 2 ground service mechanics. Team work is done around the clock. 13 people are constantly located inside a mobile ground control station. Logists control the arrival and placement of containers with equipment, work on loaders when assembling and disassembling airships, mechanics control the operation of ground equipment, and using diesel-powered pumps lay ground routes to connect fire hoses to a water source. The management station team constantly coordinates their tasks with Cal Fire management.
Logistics and ground support
Contractors deliver shipping containers with equipment, helium and diesel fuel to the launch site. Each container is equipped with a GPS tracker that allows you to track and control delivery. Usually, the movement of a large convoy accompanied by police is carried out at night with low traffic. On-site unloaded containers are placed up to 7 tiers in height with the help of compact lifts, so the area used usually does not exceed 0.4 acres. Everything necessary for the work of the team is preloaded in containers. The grouping in the air is complemented by ground services, which enable the laying of land routes for water supply and cables up to several tens of miles in length. This allows you to cut off and localize the spread of fire, going deep. Analyze the change in wind and proactively do the spilling of dry areas in the path of fire.
Environmentally friendly technology
Applied today to extinguish wildfires away from settlements have an extreme character. The earth is plowing open and vegetation is being burned towards it in order to block the path to fire. Water spills, foam, and special reagents, including when dropped from an airplane, are used near settlements. The technology of extinguishing wildfires using an air bridge will make it possible to abandon extreme methods. Besides the exhaust gases from diesel generators, the project has no negative factors for the ecology of national parks. It is also allowed to use salty ocean water (32-33 ppm), if there are no fresh water sources nearby, because salt contamination of the soil completely invisible. In an hour, 3.12 oz of dry matter NaCl and a small proportion of the salt of magnesium, calcium and potassium fall out on 1 acre of soil. This amount is negligible to increase the salinity of the soil and harm the vegetation.
A large number of people and equipment are concentrated on extinguishing a wildfire, from 1,000 to 5,000 people, including prisoners and volunteers. Together they create complex communications, related costs and reduce efficiency. Using airships, the work is more mobile, low-cost, highly efficient and allows you to save a large number of forests. A small team and a compact equipment during transportation can do more than 50 times the number of ground brigades and trucks. One team is able to work with a capacity of 300-1000 acres per hour. 4 such teams will cope with such a fire as Woolsey Fire in a week, and with a similar Camp Fire in 12 days. They will prevent the spread of fire and protect people.
Wildfires in the world
• extinguishing wildfires in other 16 states, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Australia, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Colombia, Brazil, Paraguay, Venezuela, Argentina, Chile, Senegal, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, Ethiopia, Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa, Madagascar, India, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Cambodia, China
• emergency power supply of areas with damaged infrastructure after floods, snowfall, hurricanes, tsunamis and tornadoes using high-voltage overhead power lines
• emergency water supply to areas affected by natural disasters