"Helium Way": An Energy & Cost Efficient, Safe Rope-way Of The Future

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Since 1908 Rope Ways played an important role in the field of transportation. It is very convenient mode of transport especially in hilly area. Less foot prints on ground, Eco-friendly (least deforestation), unaffected by city traffic makes it very suitable for even urban transportation. But there are some drawbacks like safety issues, and cost of infrastructure (heavy cables and tower).

As we know that “Rolling friction” depends on weight of specimen and rolling coefficient. So if somehow weight is lowered, friction will be reduced.

“Helium Cable Car” is concept rope way which uses buoyancy produced by helium gas filled balloon to reduce weight of rope way and hence reduce friction at rope and wheel system. Even buoyancy lightens the weight of rope way which is further helpful in reduction of effective diameter of rope. Lighter rope ways will be able to propel faster and reduce the overall load on tower. So frequency of towers can be reduced or low strength materials can be used to build the towers. Such system if implemented, will reduce overall cost of infrastructure and improve energy efficiency.

Here weight of cabin is fixed but weight of people is variable. If people are considered as a fixed entity (constant number), overall weight of rope way can be predicted. So if balloon is designed according that weight it will further improve the safety of people by reducing acceleration of rope way when rope breaks.

Though considering the cost of helium, trade off can be made between the extent of helium used and benefits it gives to reduce the overall cost and increase safety. Unlike airship, It doesn't need any complex guidance & control system which would be very costly.

Following calculations supports the feasibility of this design:
(for the convenience, calculations are attached as jpeg also.)

Power required to propel the rope-way:

Where, W=Fd
Where, F = ma+Ff + Fa

Here Fa=Air Resistance ( Which is neglected )
So F = ma+Crr N

Here Crr = Rolling resistance coefficient

So If we can reduce the Normal force somehow (Like By adding Helium Balloon) We can reduce the total force required to propel Ropeway & Hence Power consumption.

Now, F'=m.a+Crr (N+ρHeVg - ρaVg)+ρHeVa
Here, ρHeVa = Inertia of Helium
HeVg-ρaVg) = Bouyancy produced by Density difference

So If, CrrHeVg - ρaVg) > ρHeVa Then F' < F
So, a < CrrHea) / ρHe


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  • Name:
    Prashant Bhalani
  • Type of entry:
    Team members:
    Prashant Bhalani (Transportation Design Student/ Mechanical Engineer)

    Mehul Soparia ( Mechanical Engineer)

  • Profession:
  • Prashant is inspired by:
    Human is the best creation of mother nature and that indicates how much responsibility we have on our head to enhance the life of all living creatures. I wonder what else can be the reason for the inspiration other than this?
  • Software used for this entry:
    Solidworks, Alias Automotive, Keyshot
  • Patent status: