DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

1. After watching the videos on the Hindenburg disaster, we learned that the Hindenburg seems to have been taken down due to electricity. Experts believe that the exact cause of the fire that brought the Hindenburg down was that the airship was in an electrically charged atmosphere and the ship’s metal framework was grounded by its landing line. This caused a difference in the voltage which caused a spark to jump from the ship’s fabric covering to the ship’s framework, igniting the hydrogen.


There were a lot of factors that caused the failure of the Hindenburg. The weather on May 6th, 1937 was terrible. It was raining heavily, winds were about 30 mph, and there was a thunderstorm was starting to form. This weather made it so that the Hindenburg had to circle around landing platform for hours hoping for conditions to improve. This made it so that the flight pattern was not the planned one which contributed to the captain making a sharp turn. The flight pattern and the captain’s anxiousness to land, came because of the weather conditions. The image above shows the track that the Hindenburg was following for it to land. The captain was stressed because they had to land quickly due to the weather, ordered a sharp turn. The turn has been thought of to be the turn that ripped open a gas cell due to having too much stress applied to it. When the Hindenburg exploded, it was due to oxygen gas being flammable. However, when the Hindenburg was first designed, it was designed to stay afloat using helium gas. This was unsuccessful because of the Helium Control Act of 1927. This prohibited the exportation of helium by the US to foreign nations. This is probably the most important event that caused the disaster. With the inability for the Germans to get helium, which is the safer non-flammable gas, it caused them to get a different gas that is easily available. This lead them to have to get oxygen which is extremely flammable. This means that it is possible that if the US did not have a monopoly and a foreign ban for trading helium gas, that the Hindenburg might not have blown up but rather, just slowly went down. The United States’ ban on the exportation of helium gas was made prior to the Hindenburg and hoped that helium would be used less for military purposes. So, with a simple exception for non-military exportation, which later happened after this disaster, this event would not have happened.







2. Modern airships are very different from older ones in that the materials and overall design is made to be safer. For example, the Zeppelin NT, is a commercials airship that’s structure only weighs 1,100 kg, consists of carbon fiber crossbeams. It was designed so that even with loss of pressure, it can easily be maneuvered. The Zeppelin NT also has a high strength skin that is a multi-layered laminate. Airships however, started out as a navigable hot air balloon but slowly transitioned into what they are now. While there are many reasons as to how the Hindenburg blew up, many of these failure in airships have helped in creating better designs for them. In the Hindenburg, we know that the failure resulted in oxygen being lit. But it also has been spectated that the Hindenburg’s fire was also caused because of the flammable skin around it. Knowing that both are a possible reason as to why it went down, both could be either checked or improved. A better skin for the airship, whether it be able to have fire spread slower, or just be able to be non-flammable material would be a better design. As well as knowing that if a ship must be filled with a gas that is flammable, to make sure that it is handled carefully and the days that it is traveling are safe. Two years before the Hindenburg on February 12th, the USS Macon was destroyed due to structural failure of a ring that held a tailfin in. The reason behind the ring failing was because prior to the final flight, the airship had to go over 6k feet to get over mountains which caused the gas cells to leak and rupture. This disaster was only because the military decided to try to play the airship without properly fixing the ship. From this we can implement other safety measures that can help keep tailfins attached. This airship’s destructions were really only the fault of the military for using it despite it still being damaged. A third airship disaster that helped us learn is the Shenandoah. It was another Navy airship that was made in 1923. But 2 years later, due to thunderstorms and turbulence, the height of the ship increased past the pressure limit of the air cells. This caused them to burst and the envelope of the ship quickly fell into pieces. This example is another one that has to do with weather more than it has to do with the airship failing. The airship did not fully prepare or understand the weather. For all 3 of these disasters, it seems that weather is a major contributor. Either they were unaware of the exact weather patterns because it was the early 1900’s or they did not think it would be a large enough factor to get to their destination, it seems to play a large contribution to disasters.






3. Electron microscopy can show us a very in-depth image of the material we would want to examine. It is also able to show us the elemental make-up of the material as well. The type of image that is able to come from the microscope is incredible. In the video shown, he was able to zoom in to close enough to see the crystalline structure of the metal. This is a very helpful too for engineers to use when trying to assess why a material failed. For example, in the slides and videos about the titanic, we were shown that the elemental make-up for the rivets used were not what they should have been. They contained different amounts of elements such as sulfur which make the metal more brittle.




This document is about the metallurgy behind the titanic and it uses electron microscopy to determine the difference between the metal found on the titanic and modern steel. The work shows that the metal found on the titanic was weaker compared to that of the steel that should have been used. It can also be used on other things such as bridges, buildings, etc. Anything that is made of metal has a great use for electron microscopy because they’re able to analyze the materials to see if they are made of the right composition. If something was made of a wrong material, or it was exposed to things that would change the chemical composition, it would be able to be seen.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.