Masdar Institute Embraces Development in Sustainable Advanced Lighter than Air Technology

May 25-30, 2014

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Hosted by the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, World Air League Commissioner Don Hartsell presented on its campus an economic and technology global analysis of the future of lighter-than-air technology. The audience included students in the upcoming graduating class providing them with a perspective on effective engineering solutions addressing climate change.

In 2007, as means to diversify its economy, the Emirate of Abu Dhabi established the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MI) to provide leadership and educate students to be innovators with the depth to develop technology and enterprises in the Middle East and globally. The MI is a graduate level, research-oriented university which is focused on alternative energy, sustainability, and the environment. In the formation of MI, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology had key role and continues to do so today.

In his lecture, Commissioner Hartsell recommended to the students to take a fresh look at earlier technology paths to find engineering proofs as sources for energy efficienct inventions. "In the past century, energy production was at a low cost and the environmental impact from its production use was not a consideration. Today, our calculus is more complex. For a sustainable planet, we must account for the impact of production and use of energy. In the case of lighter than air technologies (LTA), the engineering proofs of the 1920s and 30s were significantly advanced showing LTA systems to be 80-85% more effective in moving cargo than airplanes over the same distances. The rapid development of the technology for airplanes occurred when the costs of energy was a nominal factor."

Suggesting to the graduates a path to explore, Hartsell said, “The intersection of advances in composites, manufacturing, engineering safety, helium production, avionics and weather forecasting are providing an opportunity to redefine the deployment of LTA as a sustainable means for an alternative future for this century. It would immensely benefit humanity if such sustainable practices could be adopted."

Hartsell described the activities of the World Air League and the organizing the World Sky Race, the historic first race of airships and zeppelins to circle the planet, "Since its inception, the World Sky Race has grown by the organic creativity of many adding form and meaning to its purpose. In the largest terms, the Race will be instructional, hopefully inspirational, for the next generation in classrooms around the global."

Earlier, Hartsell was provided a campus tour and was received by Dr. Mohamed Sassi, Interim Dean of Faculty, Masdar Institute, Dr. Steve Griffiths, Executive Director, Institute’s Initiatives, and Dr. Sgouris Sgouridis, Head of the Institute Center for Smart and Sustainable Systems (iSmart) and Associate Professor, Engineering Systems and Management and other faculty and staff members.

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