Called the Hydrogenase and designed by Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut, the semi-rigid airship is powered by an algal-based bio-hydrogen in conjunction with inflatable photovoltaic cells and wind propellers that double as turbines.
With a height of 1,300 feet, the vertical aircraft has four main areas--housing, offices, science labs and entertainment--and looks like a flower ready to bloom. Each inhabited space is paired with a large bio-hydrogen-filled mattress covered with flexible photovoltaic cells. In between the divide is an array of helium-filled balloons. And the whole framework is wrapped with a double-layer of waterproof, fireproof, glazed canvas. While this type of construction makes it is heavier than an aerostat of the same size, its structure and helix-like aerodynamics afford it a higher airspeed and heavier cargo.
The wings of the aircraft have twenty inlayed turbo-propellers that tilt horizontally during take-off. Not only do they help maintain the vessel's altitude of 6,500 feet with a top speed of 110 MPH, but they also double as wind turbines. And while Hydrogenase is 7-times slower than an airplane, it can cary up to 200 tons of freight.
Hydrogenase sets atop a floating organic seaweed farm responsible for the bio-hydrogen production. The station sets on top of the sea surface and has four carbon wells below filled with seaweed. While the surface of the station is equipped with solar panels, under the water are 32 hydro-turbines capturing tidal energy.
Callebaut envisions the Hydrogenase could be a transportation reality by 2030. Of course, airships haven't had much traction since the 1940s--most notably, since the Hindenburg disaster. Maybe it's time for a resurgence?