Ceruti, A. and Marzocca, P., "Airship and Hot Air Balloon Real Time Envelope Shape Prediction through a Cloth Simulation Technique," SAE Technical Paper 2015-01-2578, 2015, doi:10.4271/2015-01-2578.
The flight simulation of airships and hot air balloons usually considers the envelope geometry as a fixed shape, whose volume is eventually reduced by ballonets. However, the dynamic pressure or helium leaks in airships, and the release of air to allow descent in hot air balloons can significantly change the shape of the envelope leading to potential dangerous situations. In fact, in case of semi-rigid and non-rigid airships a reduction in envelope internal pressure can reduce the envelope bending stiffness leading to the loss of the typical axial-symmetric shape. For hot air balloons thing goes even worse since the lost of internal pressure can lead to the collapsing of the balloon shape to a sort of vertically stretched geometry (similar to a torch) which is not able to sustain the attached basket and its payload. These effect should be considered in simulations, however to compute in real time the envelope shape with Finite Element Methods is a complex and demanding task due to the high deformations, complex fabric model, and wrinkling effects. A possible solution to overcome this problem is to apply a Cloth Simulation Technique (CST) to the prediction of the envelope behaviour. This paper describes how such a model can be implemented for airship envelops and hot air balloons shape predictions. Appropriate algorithms have been developed in Matlab® and validation test have been conducted. Results show that this model can provide qualitatively good results, in agreement with the experience and the physics of the problem.