A science activity video about how hot air balloons are made? straight from Ross Exton, the Video Producer at We The Curious. The video also offers a sneak-peek into how these hot air balloons can be made at home. 

Courtesy: We The Curious 

Have you ever experienced a hot air balloon ride? It is quite adventurous! You will feel an adrenaline rush when the balloon will gently lift up in the sky and start flying! So, it is not surprising that ballooning is now popular all over the world.

Do you know more than 100,000 people attend the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta every year in the UK? Bristol is also called the hot air ballooning capital of the country and is the home to the reputed Cameron Balloons company. 

You might be thinking that it must be the fabric that makes these balloons rise up high in the sky. Although this is not the case, let’s have a look at the types of fabrics used to manufacture these hot air balloons. These balloons high up in the sky may look small, but you may be surprised to know about the size of some of these balloons. 

Largest hot air balloon 

As you may have guessed already, the largest hot air balloon was manufactured by none other than the Cameron Balloons Company at Bristol, which is also one of the oldest manufacturers of these balloons. It is the giant Cameron Z-750 that was big enough to carry 32 passengers! It was 40 meters high and a volume of 750,000cubic feet. Now that you are aware of the sheer size of these balloons, let’s gain some knowledge about the kinds of fabrics that are used in these balloons. 

Hot Air Balloon

The kinds of fabrics used in hot air balloons

Although most hot air balloon manufacturing companies use Nylon, some particular kinds of fabrics are used by the Cameron Balloons Company. These fabrics are Nomex, RipStop, and Hyperlast. While Nomex is an extremely heat resistant and flame resistant fabric, Rip-Stop is a very light and quite transparent fabric.

Nomex is used mainly at the base of the balloon, and Rip-Stop being transparent to manufacture hot-air balloons that are supposed to fly at night to have the best sight.

The third one is Hyperlast, which is a tear-resistant fabric that is slippery in touch. If you have ever seen a hot air balloon, you must have surely noticed that there is a kind of burner at the mouth of the balloon, or we can say just above the basket to heat the sir inside.

So, if you have to make a mini hot air balloon, is it really possible to make it without using fire? Yes, of course! Have a look at steps to know how to make a mini hot air balloon without fire. 

DIY Hot Air Balloon at Home

Raw materials 

1 big and thin plastic bag 

1 hairdryer

1 human figure made up of paper or wire      

A pair of scissors

1 small plastic cup

Some pieces of strings

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Steps to follow

  1. Take the big plastic bag and tie some knots at the bottom so that the bottom opening becomes small but big enough for the nozzle of the hairdryer. 
  2. Now take the plastic cup. Attach it to the knots of the bag with the help of some string pieces. 
  3. Next, you have to carefully place the human figure inside the plastic cup without bothering about its safety. After all, it is not a real human who can encounter an injury!
  4. Now, insert the nozzle of the hairdryer inside the small opening of the plastic bag and blow hot air. 
  5. Within a few seconds, the plastic bag will inflate because of the hot air and then let it go gently. 

Note: If you do not have a big thin plastic bag, do not get disappointed. You can use two or three small plastic bags to make your hot air balloon. All that you had to do is to cut a strip from both sides of the bags. Now, attach their ends to the other plastic bag by using rolls of duct tape. Thus, you will end up having a big plastic bag. 

Observation 

You will observe that the DIY hot-air balloon will rise upwards towards the ceiling. You may also notice that sometimes you may need to fill your hot-air balloon multiple times with hot air of your hairdryer so that it rises up high enough. Make sure to conduct the experiment within a closed space and feel delighted! 

Now, do you know why does a hot air balloon rises? 

Well, this is because when hot air is blown inside the plastic bag, it also heats the air molecules already present inside the bag. As a consequence, the air molecules inside the bag become energetic and start moving at a faster pace. Now, as hot air has less density in comparison to the air outside, the hot-air balloon rises. We already know that hot air is less dense than cold air. This is because the intermolecular space in hot air becomes more when the molecules expand and move.  

This amazing video of how to make a hot air balloon with a plastic bag and hairdryer at home is a must-watch for all kids. The video also offers much more information than just the DIY experiment. You got to know about the fabrics, the way these balloons are manufactured, and the sheer size of these balloons! 

However, if you wish to make a real hot air balloon with fire all by yourself, you can also do the same but not without taking the help of adults! All you need to do is to have two equal pieces of wire to form an X structure by twisting them together at the center. Now glue a candle holder with 3-4 candles at the center of the x structure, attach it to the bottom of your large plastic bag using the knots as well as strings, and light the candles with a lighter. The fun will begin soon!  

Interested in more balloon science activities :

Curious case of Xenon Balloon

Static Electricity Experiment with Balloon

Resources

https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/travel/hot-air-balloons-big-deal-bristol-77911

http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/spotlight/spotlight-which-fabric-is-best

http://www.cameronballoons.co.uk/news/the-worlds-largest-passenger-ride-balloon#:~:text=Cameron%20Balloons%20have%20designed%2C%20manufactured,Hallier%2C%20carries%20the%20Groupon%20logo.

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