What is KNARR™?

This simplified airship freight system involves very little infrastructure to make wind energy easily accessible everywhere – leading the way in greener, more efficient transport of heavy goods.

View the report for a description of the research and design process. (in Danish)

Making the most out of nature’s energy sources, the KNARR™ airship – fueled by solar cells – finally allows the transport of wind turbines to be carbon neutral.

The KNARR™ initiative demonstrates that designers can have a full-scale effect on our society’s issues. By saving fuel and money and eliminating redundance, our approach brings together the general public and the hard industry into a new, brighter future.

By overcoming design limitations, streamlining wind turbine transport and efficiently pairing the re-emerging airship industry with wind turbine manufacturers in need of leaner transport processes, KNARR™ proves to be one one of the most ambitious design projects today.


The KNARR™ system

Not only envisioning the aircraft design, but also its use, we defined scenarios for the transport of wind turbine parts, from production site to installation location.
Using all our design tools to communicate, we designed storyboards to convey our ideas to the different stakeholders involved in the transport process.

Visual storyboarding


Case study for the shipment of 5 wind turbines produced in Denmark and Northern Germany to their installation site in Sweden

16 Responses to “What is KNARR™?”

  1. 404 Not Found Says:

    […] duo has designed the plans for a sleek airship that has the smooth, delicate curves of a river stone, but which can be engineered to carry up to […]

  2. J. James Says:

    I really am left speechless by the beauty of the design. It’s elegant in ways past airship concepts have only dreamed of.

    However, I do have certain misgivings.

    What’s worrisome is the prospect of this thing actually being built, and I very deeply regret to say but the likelihood is absolutely dismal. Where does the money come from? Your initial investment amount must be staggeringly huge in order to actually go about building this thing. You bit off more than you can chew by starting with an airship OVER 1,000 FEET LONG!

    No, if I were you, I would follow the “Graf Zeppelin” route.
    It’s simple, really.
    #1: Gather investment from small and large. Leave no stone unturned.
    #2: Build a small, modest, realistic prototype proof-of-concept airship. Be ABSOLUTELY SURE that it captures public attention while being economically feasible. Something about 400-500 feet long would be perfect.
    #3: Take the prototype around the world. Give it a name and a soul. Use it for everything, from pleasure cruises to carrying high-profile newsworthy cargo to making fantastic scientific voyages, humanitarian aid flights and appearances. Use it to give hope to others. Build her carreer and her accomplishments. Make her a symbol. Circumnavigate the globe!
    #4: Meanwhile, you are building up and training a crew and staff. You’re building the foundations for the next generation.
    #5: Take your accumulated fame and money and the framework you built up to launch the real deal.

    • projectknarr Says:

      Thank you very much for your kind words. 🙂
      It was developed as a graduation project from architectural school. But we have tried to make the concept and the feel of the airship as real as possible.
      We hope for the project to be a kind of inspiration in terms of further developments on the airship field. We are currently not building the airship but we love working with the technology.
      And we have just started a design and development company in Copenhagen and are very happy about all the publicity about the project.

      • M Says:

        You seem to have overlooked several technical aspects regards airship operations,

        Inflatable (non rigid) airships have a large bag inside which is called a ballonet, the purpose of which is to keep the pressure of the helium envelope even so the ship keeps its shape and does not over inflate as the temperature of the helium changes (say if the sun comes out) the ballonet is filled with air pumped in using a ducted fan or pressure from the drive fans.

        Airships need ballast to keep them under control, as you unload your payload you need to load ballast otherwise the airship will float upwards forcing the pilot to vent precious Helium.

        Airships have to have a mast to moor to, otherwise they cant be left with no pilot. I see some very modern airships use vacuum to hold them on the ground temporarily while they unload but this requires a flat surface to work properly.

        Airships require large amounts of ground crew to “catch” the airship and guide it to the mast wherever it lands. A small airship 160 feet long capable of carrying 4 passengers only requires at at least 8 people on the ground to land it, the Hindenburg needed hundreds.

  3. Innovationpartners » Danish Winner at the Core 77 Design Awards Says:

    […] a wind turbine freight system by modern airship technology powered with solar energy See their blog here). In the “Packaging” category Scanwood is a runner up for their packaging for package design […]

  4. Durwood M. Dugger Says:

    There are so many technical holes in the Knarr design that still need to be addressed even before a small scale prototype can be built – particularly on their solar assumptions and their failure to address back up propulsion systems. I note they got the Core 77 design award – not and aeronautical engineering award. Designers are to aeronautical engineers as architects are to structural engineers.

    The German company for the CL160 CargoLifter followed Mr. James plan above almost to the letter (at least to step 3.) and went bankrupt in 2002 after their 1/3 scale prototype crashed in a storm. The Knarr is 6 times larger than the proposed and never built CL 160. As a pilot, I can’t imagine trying to maneuver such huge a craft in anything beyond the lightest breeze – especially with solar electric motors. Current electric aircraft have air times (battery life) around 10 minutes as well. Imagine the thrusts necessary to counter the huge surface area in a storm. Imagine encountering a down burst near the ground – the huge surface would be impossible to control or avoid impacting the ground. Nightmare.

    • projectknarr Says:

      I think your comment about Designers being to aeronautical engineers what architects are to structural engineers is right on point. We are architects and therefore work with the material and the advice we get from engineers and specialists. The project is a vision based concept that shows the prospects of using airship technology to transport windmills. It is based on the advice and guidance we have received from people in the airship community, solar industry and wind industry. We have later heard that the propeller systems should probably be scaled up. But as such it isn’t something that redefines the viability. The size and buoyancy principals are derived from the Hybrid Air Vehicle Company in England and what we have been able to gather on the internet from the Lockheed Martin P791 skunk works project. But to be honest I would also be scared to fly the thing. 🙂
      It is not a project in development but a graduation project from architectural school. We have since finished the project worked in the wind energy sector with other development projects and concept projects.
      When engineers, architects, aeronautical engineers and designers work together you are able to question and push the conventions of the other groups and reach results that would be very hard for one group alone.
      But thank you for your comments.
      Mads Thomsen

      • DK Says:

        I think you realy see it too much from an architect’s angle of view. Airship design is all aeronautical engineering stuff there is nothing architectural. Just go into history and have a closer look to alone the in total little more than 100 ridgid airships built by Zeppelin (LZ 1 – LZ 130, only some few of this continuous numbering were not built) you will quickly find out that airship design stricly follows (aeronautical) function. Except for the passenger areas there is no need for architectural design.

        A project as you describe here has a central function (the pick up and release of the load. In a real project you would have to design all aspects of the ship around this function. E.g. the hull shape will depend completely on the load distribution. The old Zeppelins had their payload distributed along the keel reducing the structural stress to a minimum which allowed a quite light design of the ridgid frame. In total contrast to that a crane-airship will have its payload concentrated more or less in a small aera of the airframe. This has tremendeous consequences for the over-all design.

        In addition you seem not to have noticed that a lighter-than-air craft cannot pickup or release heavy payloads like a heavier-than-air craft, which stands on the ground. An airship can only pick up payload by evening its total weight. That means it more or less hovers all the time. Picking up 100 tonns of payload means releasing 100 tonns of ballast simultaneous (please see videos of how passenger got aboard e.g. the Hindenburg – for each person a corresponding amount of water ballast was dropped when he entered the ship).

        This is one of most central design aspects the CargoLifter engineering team was working most time about. The result was the heart-like cross section shape of the hull (!!). The structural and hull shape of your concept is quite a big contrast to that (and would in my oppinion never be able to carry the load for which is was intended for. The result would be a too heavy airframe).

        Hower – I really like your idea and the proposed design has in my eyes a unique beauty. Especially the cockpit design is really remarcable. I like it much. Hence please take my above explanations as positive critique. We all learn from each other!


  5. Core77 Design Award 2011: KNARR Cargo Airship, Winner for Speculative Objects/Concepts - Core77 Says:

    […] Rune Kirt and Mads Thomsen Location: Copenhagen, Denmark Category: Speculative Objects/Concepts Award: Professional […]

  6. Core77 Design Award 2011: KNARR Cargo Airship, Winner for Speculative Objects/Concepts | Media Collective Says:

    […] Rune Kirt and Mads Thomsen Location: Copenhagen, Denmark Category: Speculative Objects/Concepts Award: Professional […]

  7. Core77 Design Award 2011: KNARR Cargo Airship, Winner for Speculative Objects … | Speculative Thinker Says:

    […] Rune Kirt and Mads Thomsen Location: Copenhagen, Denmark Category: Speculative Objects/Concepts Award: Professional […]

  8. Core77 Design Award 2011: KNARR Cargo Airship, Winner for Speculative Objects … » Zero Carbon City Gazette Says:

    […] Rune Kirt and Mads Thomsen Location: Copenhagen, Denmark Category: Speculative Objects/Concepts Award: Professional […]

  9. Carbon neutral transportation of wind turbines Says:

    […] To read more about the design, please click here […]

  10. Anton Says:

    Madly beautifully! This really future transport and movement. I wish you good luck!

  11. John Turner Says:

    This rather reminds me of the work of Buckminster Fuller, who nearly a century ago called for fleets of airships to deliver factory-built structures directly to their foundations anywhere in the world.

    He called these air-freighted buildings Dymaxion towers — each a cylindrical block of offices and housing that used a central spar surrounded by a furled, deployable set of floors and walls; the central spar housing mechanical utilities, elevators and stairs for the block; the whole thing equipped to be socketed into a reinforced-concrete post stand foundation constructed locally by a flown-in work crew.

    Fuller felt that using pressed aluminum panels and other lightweight, aviation-type materials would reduce the total dry weight of a Dymaxion tower to something an airship could haul in one piece and lower to the ground unassisted. Once situated and with its fold-up living spaces opened, each tower would gather rain for water, tap the wind and sun for heat and power and operate with very low environmental impact anywhere you chose to situate one.

    Fuller felt his idea would be inevitable once Detroit perfected the flying car, a development he projected would occur by the mid 1930s. A society built around flying cars could choose to live anywhere, dispersing to the prettiest places and away from coastal cities.

    Today of course, we might choose a similar path for new reasons. Our coastal cities are due to flood within a century and our safest refuges might be in the remote interiors of continents. Is it time to conceive a new Dymaxion future for ourselves?

  12. Benjamin Says:

    I am Designing a passenger zeppelin filled with hydrogen and built the old way. it will be called Antares and will be 371 meters long!

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