Sustainable airships promising a clean future of transportation and surveillance

Airships might look like a thing of the past. In fact, nowadays we see them mostly as carrying advertisement banners, cameras, etc. Unlike airplanes, which we are using in a much more commercial way, these haven’t utilized their complete potential. Nevertheless, all this isn’t going unnoticed. There are plenty of designers out there trying to make sure that we see plenty of airships in future and not just on album covers. So, here is a list of 20 such striking sustainable airships designs that could well make our planet a much better place to live in:

20 Futuristic Sustainable airships

1. Stirling Solar-Electric Airship

Designed by Laurens Rademakers, the Stirling Solar-Electric Airship uses the principle of a Stirling engine to stay afloat for a long period. The Stirling engine works on the principle of the heat difference between the layers of the ship. The greater the heat difference, the greater the energy produced. Moreover, by using a solar dish to capture solar energy and to translate it into heat, the airship can produce enough energy to keep it afloat even at night.


2. Turtle Airship

The Turtle Airship is a proposal for a turtle-shaped craft that will be powered by solar panels during the day and bio-diesel at night. The ship is capable of landing on any large body of water or an open field. In fact, the company already got a $200 million investment to build and fly the aircraft.


3. High Altitude Airship

DARPA awarded a $400 million contract to Lockheed Martin to design, build, test and fly a 1:3 scale model of an airship surveillance and telecommunications platform called the High Altitude Airship or HAA. In addition, the geostationary airship will be filled with helium to enable it to patrol the skies from the jet stream. Furthermore, the airship will be powered by a 15KW solar array mounted on its roof.


4. High Speed Solar Airship

The High Speed Solar Airship is a proposal to offer cost-effective means to haul cargo. The airship will be designed using off-the-shelf components and will offer high-speed cargo hauling. Moreover, the ship generates up to 67.2KW of solar power from onboard solar panels, which along with Jet Stream boosts speed on the west-to-east transport to up to 182mph. Flying at a height of 30,000 feet, the airship can also fly at night at a speed of 165mph.


5. Aerolabe

The Aerolabe is a concept airship designed by painter and sculptor Gaspard Schlumberger, who believes that solar energy has the potential to green the airspace dominated by gas-guzzling aircraft. The cigar-shaped airship includes solar panels and wings to make this balloon take to the skies.


6. Aeolus Airship

Designed by Christopher Ottersbach, the Aeolus Airship is a mid-air transportation medium that is perfectly eco-friendly. Having aerodynamic looks, this airship can carry two to four people on an above-ground journey for two weeks. This sustainable airship draws energy from helium. However, the crew members do get a great workout in propelling as well as pedaling the engine.


7. Pentagon’s surveillance airship

The Pentagon is expected to develop a $400 million spy airship that will be able to fly up to 65,000ft in the air and can travel to any destination across the globe within 15 days. The airship will be powered by solar panels, which will be backed up by hydrogen fuel cells to keep the airship airborne even during nighttime.


8.  Strato Cruiser Airship

Designed by Tino Schaedler and Michael J Brown, the Strato Cruiser Airship is a concept for a “lifestyle zeppelin.” The airship’s construction desires to mold new levels of safety, speed and ecology to travel. Being embedded upon with carbon fiber skin, photovoltaic cells and a sectional helium chamber the structure can surely breed the looks and traits. The airship has a restaurant, recreational climbing walls and private suites as well.


9. Sun Ship

Envisioned by folks at Solar Flight, the Sun Ship is designed to be as small as possible but large enough to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Running on solar energy, the Sun Ship can comfortably carry three people at lower altitudes, two people to medium altitudes and one person at high altitudes and is expected to break the current altitude record for airships of 24,000 ft.


10. Airship One

The Airship One is a solar powered hybrid between a semi-rigid airship and an airplane and can comfortably accommodate 25 passengers in its double-deck passenger compartment. The airship’s aluminum-grade skeleton is a semi-rigid structure and has carbon fiber paneling and high-strength fabric to camouflage the skeleton. The vectored ducted fans enable the ship to hover or cruise around 120mph effortlessly.


11. Dynalifter

The Dynalifter airship is a fuel-saving combination of an aircraft and that requires almost no ground infrastructure. The airship gets aloft with up to 80% lift coming from helium and the remaining provided by a fuel-efficient internal combustion engine. The designers claim that the Dynalifter takes off and lands like a plane but consumes only a third of the fuel.

12. Nephelios

Designed by Project Sol’R, the Nephelios is to be made from an aluminum frame covered in an outer wrap made from nylon and polyethylene. The 22m-long blimp carries semi-flexible solar cells that are capable of generating up to 2.4KW of green electrical power. The helium-filled blimp is powered by a small motor at present, which generates enough energy to fuel two propellers to push the blimp at a speed of about 25mph.


13. Aircruise

The brainchild of designers at London-based Seymourpowell, the Aircruise is what the future of travel and hospitality might look like. The Aircruise harvests solar energy, while its primary source of power is a hydrogen fuel cell drive system. The zero-emission concept can cruise at around 90mph, which means a journey from London to New York will take about 37 hours. Integrating four duplex apartments and five smaller apartments with a penthouse apartment, bar/lounge/communal areas, the Aircruise creates a luxury hotel in the skies.


14. ISIS

Conceived by DARPA, the Integrated Sensor Is the Structure (ISIS) is a self-sustaining airship that harvests solar energy for propulsion. However, this fully-automated airship is designed to take off from a permanent ground base in the U.S. Moreover, it would fly automatically to any point on the planet within 10 days.



Designed by Alexandros Tsolakis and Irene Shamma, the AIRBIA is one of the sustainable airships that ferry passengers quickly and easily from their suburban homes to urban city centers. However, as of now, the airship is designed to carry about 400 people and travel at an average speed of 93mph.


16. Manned Cloud

The Manned Cloud is a conceptual flying hotel designed by Massaud Studio. In fact, this amazing craft offers you the opportunity to live in the sky, travel around the world. Moreover, it does so without leaving a trace (pollution) behind. In short, it gives you an experience of a lifetime by becoming aware of the environment.


17. Rediscovery

The Rediscovery concept is an eco-friendly helium-filled airship that is designed as a rediscovery of the White House. Moreover, the airship has accommodation and workspace for the President and his staff members. However, the main aim of “Rediscovery” is to make a worldwide exchange of new regenerative technologies possible.


18. Zep’lin

Designed by Damien Grossemy, the Zep’lin concept features solar panels and onboard lithium-ion batteries that store extra energy as the airship soars up above.


19. Aeroscraft ML866

The Aeroscraft ML866 is a proposed new type of an airship that combines buoyancy with dynamic lift. Designed by airship manufacturer Aeros, the Aeroscraft is amongst the few sustainable airships that can take off and land vertically. Also, it will be able to travel up to 222kph and have a range of 5000km. In addition, one can also configure the craft, which is also popular as“bouyancy assisted air vehicle,” for passenger, private or cargo uses.


20. Sanswire-TAO STS-111

Powered by gas-cell power, the Sanswire-TAO STS-111 is one of the longer sustainable airships. In fact, it is 111-feet long. The 11-foot tall multi-segmented and non-rigid airship is designed using ultra-light UAV technology. This technology enables it to fly for extremely long durations. Furthermore, it is capable to carry various payloads and transmit various types of wireless communications.


Final Words

As a part of the aviation industry’s desperate attempts to cut costs and reduce emissions, there have been designers envisioning a clean future. In fact, if the designs are true, then future transportation will rely heavily on alternative sources of fuel. When cost-efficient zero-emission transport is the need, airships mostly win over aircraft and other conventional means. With sustainable airships, designers over the world are today envisioning bright prospects that might just change urban transportation and even surveillance forever.


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