Conceptual design optimization of high-altitude airship having a tri-lobed envelope

M. Manikandan, Rajkumar S. Pant

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

6 Citations (Scopus)


High-altitude airships are being touted as the ideal aerial platform for long endurance applications for the next generation of communication systems. Such airships are usually powered by an electric propulsion system using solar cells mounted on upper surface of the envelope. Most existing studies related to such airships assume an axi-symmetric envelope shape, which has large drag and curved solar panels, both of which result in large size of solar panels. A possible solution to reduce solar panel area of a high-altitude airship is to use a multi-lobed envelope configuration on which flattish solar panels are mounted, which increases their power generation efficiency. This paper describes a methodology for conceptual design and sizing of high-altitude airships with a tri-lobed envelope, while incorporating the effect of parameters from four disciplines, viz envelope geometry, aerodynamics, operating environment, and solar irradiance. As a demonstration of the usefulness of this methodology, it is coupled to a particle swarm optimizer to obtain solutions that correspond to the minimum area of solar panels needed, while meeting all operating requirements and constraints for deployment on a specific day of the year. Compared to a baseline tri-lobed envelope, it is seen that the optimal solutions require 0.98–2.6% lower solar array area, while operating on four specific days of the year. Sensitivity analysis of area of solar array to a key parameter, viz fineness ratio (FR), is also carried out in this study. It is seen that as FR is increased from 3 to 6, the area of solar array required for operating on one specific day can be reduced substantially, due to reduction in the envelope drag and hence volume.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization - Proceedings of the 2nd National Conference on Multidisciplinary Analysis and Optimization, NCMDAO 2019
EditorsRaviprakash R. Salagame, Palaniappan Ramu, Indira Narayanaswamy, Dhish Kumar Saxena
PublisherSpringer Gabler
Number of pages13
ISBN (Print)9789811554315
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Event2nd National Conference on Multidisciplinary Design, Analysis and Optimization, NCMDAO 2019 - Bengaluru, India
Duration: 21-03-201923-03-2019

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Mechanical Engineering
ISSN (Print)2195-4356
ISSN (Electronic)2195-4364


Conference2nd National Conference on Multidisciplinary Design, Analysis and Optimization, NCMDAO 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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