Light-Weight Vacuum Chamber
This technology developed at Florida State University comprises a vacuum chamber with an innovative wall structure. Instead of a conventional homogeneous wall structure, the vacuum chamber uses an array of internally-pressurized, thin-walled cells to contain an enclosed volume. The walls are arranged so that when a vacuum is present in the enclosed volume, the cell walls are placed in tension. In this way the potential modes of buckling instability are substantially reduced. The result is a much lighter vessel compared to a conventional homogeneous wall vessel of similar strength.
Traditional vacuum chamber designs have been quite heavy. For earth-bound vacuum chambers, weight is frequently not a concern. However, for mobile chambers, weight can be a very significant concern. The weight associated with traditional vacuum chambers can be highly significant in such an environment.
In addition to the mobile aspect advantage of having a light-weight vacuum chamber, this vacuum chamber raises the possibility of displacing a greater weight of atmosphere than the weight of the vacuum chamber itself. Such a design could achieve positive buoyancy, creating a rigid "vacuum balloon."