Maximally stable lobed balloons
This paper is concerned with the optimization of the cutting pattern of n-fold symmetric super-pressure balloons made from identical lobes constrained by stiff meridional tendons. It is shown that the critical buckling pressure of such balloons is maximized if the unstressed surface area of the balloon is minimized under a stress constraint. This approach results in fully stressed balloon designs that in some cases have a smaller unstressed surface area than the corresponding axisymmetric surface that is in equilibrium with zero hoop stress. It is shown that, compared to current designs, the buckling pressures can be increased by up to 300% without increasing the maximum stress in the lobe.
© 2010 Elsevier. Received 25 March 2009; revised 23 September 2009. Available online 23 February 2010. A preliminary version of this paper was presented at the AIAA Balloon Systems Conference in Williamsburg in May 2007. We thank Mr. Rodger Farley (NASA Goddard Space Center), Dr. James Rand (Winzen Engineering) and Dr. David Wakefield (Tensys Dynamics Limited) for helpful discussions. This research was partially supported by the NASA Balloon Program Office, Program Monitor Mr. Danny Ball (Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility) and by St. John's College, Cambridge.