Following their meeting this weekend in Lausanne, the FAI Executive Board members visited Château d'Oex and the annual International Balloon Festival.
During their visit, the Board were fortunate enough to meet Pierrick Duvoisin, a passionate balloon pilot and holder of four FAI World Records. Pierrick explained his latest 'Eco-Balloon' project, which he believes will change the nature of ballooning in the future thanks to the dramatic energy-saving design and performance.
Whereas hot air balloons normally use a balloon envelope with a single layer of fabric, the Eco-Balloon has two separate envelopes, one inside the other, creating an insulating layer of air between the two, much like a pane of double glazing does in the window of a house. This layer dramatically reduces the heat loss from the balloon, leading to a reduction in the amount of fuel needed to keep it in the air. While the fabric that Pierrick uses is very similar to that of a standard balloon, he has succeeded in developing a process of adding an aluminium coating to it to further improve its insulation qualities while at the same time eliminating condensation problems that double-envelope balloons had suffered from in the past.
Pierrick proved his concept when he constructed a small 1600m3 hot air balloon in 2009, primarily designed for test purposes. The balloon was such a success that it was difficult to believe it could perform alongside much larger balloons while using much less fuel - in fact, Pierrick has seen his fuel requirements drop by a factor of 3 to 4; if a flight in a conventional balloon required 40kg of gas, Pierrick could count on 10kg being sufficient.
Pierrick has since constructed a more standard sized 4000m3 balloon and is confident that with it he will be able to break current ballooning world records. But this is not his primary goal; he is intent on proving that the balloon is no longer a concept but instead a very real alternative for the future of ballooning. Pierrick will tour Canada in early 2014 to prove the balloon's capabilities in a cold environment and in a country large enough to accommodate long flights.
|Sub-Class||Type of Record||Performance||Date||Claimant||Status||Id|
|AX-01||Duration||6 hours 20 min 38 sec||2007-12-19||Pierrick Duvoisin (SUI)||ratified - current record||14904|
|AX-02||Duration||7 h 09 min 46 sec||2006-01-13||Pierrick Duvoisin (SUI)||ratified - superseded since approved||12938|
|AX-06||Duration||27 h 41 min 20 sec||2010-02-17||Pierrick Duvoisin (SUI)||ratified - current record||15834|
|AX-07||Duration||27 h 41 min 20 sec||2010-02-17||Pierrick Duvoisin (SUI)||ratified - current record||15835|