Here are answers to some of our most commonly asked questions. If you would like to ask us another question, get in touch by emailing us firstname.lastname@example.org
The Altaeros BAT is designed to survive 100+ mph winds and operate in heavy precipitation. A secondary conductive path within the electromechanical tether grounds the BAT and protects sensitive electrical equipment from lightning current surge. In case of severe weather storms, the system can autonomously dock and wait out the storm on its ground station, where it can continue to produce power.
The Altaeros BAT will use helium for all deployments. Modern airships, blimps and aerostats have used helium for decades to lift heavy equipment into the air for long periods of time to film our sports stadiums and protect our borders. The Altaeros BAT adapts existing industrial-grade fabric technology to achieve a low gas leak rate similar to modern helium inflatables. Hydrogen is also approved and deployed as a lifting gas for aerostats and could be used for future products.
While there are temporary bottlenecks in helium supply, there is abundant helium supply for decades to come. Helium is trapped in natural gas reserves and is a by-product of natural gas production. Helium prices increased on average 4% annually since 2003, and nine countries have major helium supplies including the U.S., China, and Russia. Forecasts suggest that prices will roughly double over the next 20 years, over which time there will not be any significant supply shortages. Helium makes up a very small portion of the cost of the Altaeros BAT.
The Altaeros BAT is fitted with sensors that identify pressure variations in the shell which are indicative of punctures in the fabric. If a severe puncture is detected, the BAT will autonomously dock and the operator will be alerted. For decades, similar aerostat technology has proven extremely resilient to small punctures, because the internal pressure of an aerostat is only slightly higher than the external environment, resulting in very low leak rates.
The Altaeros BAT has three load-bearing tethers. If one of the tethers breaks loose, the remaining tethers will reel in the shell. In the very unlikely scenario that all three tethers break loose, an automatic vent will begin to release helium to allow the BAT to slowly descend to the ground. Similar safety features have been reliably demonstrated on hundreds of existing aerostats.
The Altaeros BAT requires no crew for day-to-day operation. The system is monitored remotely and, in case of extreme weather, the system will autonomously dock. Like other power equipment, periodic maintenance is required, to visually inspect the system and top up any lost helium.
Once on site, the Altaeros BAT can be inflated and deployed in under 24 hours. Our system does not require a crane or cement foundation for its installation.
The Altaeros BAT was designed for easy permitting under existing airspace and environmental regulations. Per FAA requirements, the Altaeros BAT is limited to under 600 meter height (similar to skyscrapers and radio antennas), The shell is fitted with lightweight indicator lights for nighttime deployment and a beacon to alert nearby aircraft. According to Normandeau Associates, a leading environmental consultancy, “birds and bats are likely to be behaviorally averse to entering the shrouded space where the turbines spin,” thereby reducing the potential impact on avian wildlife.
The Altaeros BAT can lift an additional moderate weight payload capacity, which includes cellular antennas, VHF/UHF Two Way Radio antennas, Wireless Internet, video and infrared cameras, meteorological devices and other payload systems.