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Author Topic: Ammonia as a lifting gas  (Read 2616 times)
19th Century Space Pilot
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« on: January 30, 2010, 05:42:23 pm »

While I would much prefer to use Hydrogen, due to it's much higher lifting capability (over twice that of Ammonia), I have a limited amount of space to store my airship. So I was thinking about Ammonia instead. It's lifting capability is around 0.5kg/m^3, but it's boiling point is sufficiently high that I can presurize it at room temperature (I think...) to store it when I pack my airship down.

Obviously, when I have the space to store hydrogen filled Airships, I will, but even there Ammonia has an advantage. An Airship using a dual lifting gas system, Hydrogen an Ammonia, can alter it's bouyuncy a lot easier at the expense of a slightly larger envelope. Hydrogen will still supply most of the lift, but the Ammonia shall allow corrections to be made a lot easier.
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Mr. Boltneck
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« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2010, 06:35:51 pm »

Not to rain on your parade in any way, but I had some vague memory about ammonia, and did a bit of reading up. Given that it is toxic, flammable, an environmental hazard, and reactive, with a tendency to corrode a range of metals and eat some plastics, is it all that much of an overall advantage to use it as a lifting gas? Aside from the safe-handling issues, and the possible permitting question in your area, it seems like it might not be worth the trouble when Wikipedia lists its lifting power as around 60% of hydrogen. Frankly, hydrogen or methane seem sort of friendly by comparison.
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Dr Fidelius
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« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2010, 07:33:43 pm »

Given that it is toxic, flammable, an environmental hazard, and reactive, with a tendency to corrode a range of metals

You say that as if it were a bad thing.  To me it sounds like the perfect addition to a rival's airship.
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SirValdemar
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« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2010, 08:56:50 pm »

Highly dangerous stuff to the human body, I worked in a large scale deep cold refrigeration storage facility and the head of security said the following,

"If you hear me come over the PA system telling you to head to the cafeteria for lock down you better not head outside because it means we have an external leak and we will close the doors to protect the rest of the people, if you hear me come over the PA system crying like a baby and asking for my mother then you better kiss your ass good bye."  This was in response to someone asking about what we do if we have an external and internal leak of the 65 tons of anhydrous ammonia used to pushing the cold storage sections down to -35F.

The ammonia you get in cleaning products is only %2 solution with the rest being water and you know how strongly it effects your nose, the types of ammonia used in industrial go as high as %96 which is what was used in the facility I worked at.
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« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2010, 09:02:25 pm »


"If you hear me come over the PA system telling you to head to the cafeteria for lock down you better not head outside because it means we have an external leak and we will close the doors to protect the rest of the people, if you hear me come over the PA system crying like a baby and asking for my mother then you better kiss your ass good bye."  This was in response to someone asking about what we do if we have an external and internal leak of the 65 tons of anhydrous ammonia used to pushing the cold storage sections down to -35F.

I think that's about all one needs to know on the subject, personally. yikes!
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Dr Fidelius
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« Reply #5 on: January 30, 2010, 09:12:09 pm »

While I would much prefer to use Hydrogen, due to it's much higher lifting capability (over twice that of Ammonia), I have a limited amount of space to store my airship. So I was thinking about Ammonia instead. It's lifting capability is around 0.5kg/m^3, but it's boiling point is sufficiently high that I can presurize it at room temperature (I think...) to store it when I pack my airship down.

Obviously, when I have the space to store hydrogen filled Airships, I will, but even there Ammonia has an advantage. An Airship using a dual lifting gas system, Hydrogen an Ammonia, can alter it's bouyuncy a lot easier at the expense of a slightly larger envelope. Hydrogen will still supply most of the lift, but the Ammonia shall allow corrections to be made a lot easier.

I goes against my frugal Scottish nature to say this, but you do not store your hydrogen when you pack away your airship.  You vent it at break-down and generate more hydrogen when inflating the airbags using either electolysis or by dropping some zinc into some hydrochloric acid.  Your metal/ acid combination may vary.
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heavyporker
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« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2010, 01:28:06 am »

What the blazes!? Why not simply pipe the hydrogen into a ground tank and burn it to get heat, electricity, and water? That'd far more efficient than simply venting it into the air!
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pakled
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« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2010, 09:10:06 am »

Actually, the real stumbling block at present is that it takes much more energy to generate hydrogen than it does to burn it...don't blame me, blame physics...Wink

Collecting the hydrogen, and removing trace gases, etc., would be an undertaking...
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elShoggotho
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« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2010, 10:37:18 am »

Better for the environment to burn off your hydrogen, generating water in the process. Unbound hydrogen heads off to space, and even though our supplies are ample, they're finite.
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19th Century Space Pilot
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« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2010, 01:46:34 pm »

But how difficult is Methane storage? I'll use it if I can store it relatively easy...

Didn't know that about Ammonia.
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Major Wolfram Quicksilver
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« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2010, 11:21:42 pm »

Better for the environment to burn off your hydrogen, generating water in the process. Unbound hydrogen heads off to space, and even though our supplies are ample, they're finite.


I wouldn't worry too much about hydrogen heading off into space.  A very large number of meteoroids enter the Earth's atmosphere each day.  Approximately 3,000 meteors with the requisite mass strike Earth.  That translates to 125 meteors per hour.  The vast majority are tiny, less than 10 grammes, but this still amounts to more than a hundred tons of material every 24 hours. As they are composed of rock/metal and ice, that's a lot of water entering our atmosphere, even if it gets vapourised to begin with.  Pumping hydrogen out of gasbags and into storage just increases the chance of an accident happening.  Having been involved in a (small) explosion involving hydrogen  (lead-acid batteries being charged in an enclosed space), I can say with experience that it ruins your day, along with your moustache, eyebrows, eyelashes, and frontal hair.

Vent away!
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19th Century Space Pilot
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« Reply #11 on: February 01, 2010, 05:29:07 pm »

Well, Methane sounds quite good. It's liquid at -82.7 degrees when compressed to a pressure of 46 bars.

Then again, I think I'm probably going to experiment with water, actually...
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dman762000
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« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2010, 04:17:23 pm »


"If you hear me come over the PA system telling you to head to the cafeteria for lock down you better not head outside because it means we have an external leak and we will close the doors to protect the rest of the people, if you hear me come over the PA system crying like a baby and asking for my mother then you better kiss your ass good bye."  This was in response to someone asking about what we do if we have an external and internal leak of the 65 tons of anhydrous ammonia used to pushing the cold storage sections down to -35F.


I work at a food plant that uses an ammonia system to run its freezers down to -40. They told me when I started that there was enough ammonia in the system that if there was a catastrophic failure there was enough ammonia to kill every living thing within a three mile radius. I did a little research and found out that ammonia displaces oxygen. So if there was a failure then everything would die of suffocation. Fun times really.
On to the matter of methane. Methane can be generated from bovine waste material, porcine waste material and even human waste material. However I do not know how hard it is to get some of it in a transportable form. It is highly flammable and prone to blowing up enclosed spaces if ignited. It has a decent amount of lift to it, unfortunately pretty much any gas that can lift is going to have problems in handling or flammability. Right now the safest gas for lift seems to be helium which is quite expensive.
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