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500 Miles on 10-Percent Plastic Waste

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Diesel Powerplants Leave a Comment

Plastic threatens to choke the world’s oceans, five gyres or “garbage patches” of plastic debris twirling around in toxic profusion.  These plastic bits and pieces, slowly photodegrading into smaller and smaller pieces, also choke the fish and birds that feed on or in the water.  It’s a huge problem that invites grand visions for solutions In what may at first glance seem a very small attempt to help,”Campaigning Pilot Jeremy Rowsell has made history by flying a light aircraft more than 500 miles from Sydney to Melbourne, Australia, using conventional fuel blended with 10% fuel manufactured by the UK’s Plastic Energy, from plastic waste.” Jeremy flies a Vans Aircraft RV-9A, which uses a blend of “end-of-life” plastic waste, transformed from …

How Cheaply Can One Fly?

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Electric Aircraft Components, Batteries Leave a Comment

How low(cost) can you go and still fly?   That question forms one of the pursuits of the Minimalist Airplane Study Group, hosted by William Rich on Yahoo Groups.  He may have found an answer that leads to several intriguing alternative uses for the type of electric powerplant described below.  Use of model aircraft components leads to a low-cost build, and judicious use of off-the-shelf parts from other hobbies keeps costs low and speeds up the development process. He points to a hack from Laserhacker.com, which uses a motor, controller, propeller batteries and connectors one might find at the local hobby shop.  This assemblage manages to fly a paramotor despite the small size of the motor and the relatively small size …

Hybrid Aircraft – Several Empowering Possibilities

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Electric Powerplants, Electric Aircraft Components, Hybrid Aircraft Leave a Comment

While we wait (with increasing patience or impatience depending on our personalities) for the next round of battery developments to make pure electric airplanes a reality, hybrid possibilities abound.  The definition of “hybrid” might not be as coherent as those used for automobiles.  Some “hybrids in this entry allow extended letdowns following a primary engine failure.  In that case, the added electric motor/generator gives extra minutes to find a safe landing space.  While both motor and primary engine are operational, the system acts much like an automotive hybrid system, both motor and engine combining outputs for added power, or the electrical portion recharging batteries while the engine maintains cruise power. Some are more like automotive serial systems, an engine-driven generator …

If Santa Lived in a Soho Loft and Built Drones

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

There is much happening in electric aviation, including this flying Santa Claus, dangling from what is claimed to be the world’s largest homemade drone. And in this interesting behind-the-scenes video we find that Casey Neitstat either has arms of steel, or a clever harness maker who probably outfits touring companies for Peter Pan stage presentations.  The 16-motor system seems capable of hauling a fairly large human skyward, but some critics think this is a sham of some sort.  Your editor sides with the theory that this is a real drone, since Samsung has seen fit to link its name to the project (and the video evidence seems fairly convincing).  In the interests of full disclosure, though, Casey has pulled some …


Flying (Quietly) Like a REAL Bird!

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Aircraft Components Leave a Comment

Not Just an Academic Exercise Justin Jaworski, Lehigh University assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, writes, “From antiquity to Harry Potter, owls continue to captivate and mystify us. Perhaps owls’ most mysterious feat is their ability to fly silently, which enables them to both sneak up on prey and hunt on the wing using their ears alone. For over 80 years, silent owl flight has been linked to a set of unique plumage features, but only recently have the mechanisms to suppress the ‘swoosh’ noise from owl wings been addressed in earnest.” This suppression of noise ensures that prey hunted by owls never know what hits them.  The …

EC04 has tail-mounted motor, typical of Stuttgart designs

EC04 Design Wins 2016 Berblinger Prize

Dean Sigler GFC, Sustainable Aviation, Diesel Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft Leave a Comment

A Big Win for Stuttgart Team Dipl-Ing Ingmar Geiß, Deputy Project Leader for e-Genius at the Institute of Aircraft Design at the University of Stuttgart, shared this pleasant news:  “I am happy to tell you that our hybrid-electric “ECO4” has won the Berblinger Prize 2016.  ECO4 combines an optimized electric airframe with a modern combustion engine generating electricity. This combination leads to an aircraft which cruises at 120 knots and consumes 40 percent less fuel than comparable state-of-the-art airplanes with conventional propulsion. As a further advantage, a small but powerful battery system enables a silent take-off without the combustion engine running, reducing significantly the noise emissions.”   The Berblinger Prize Gunter Czisch, mayor of Ulm, presented the 23,000 euro ($24,035 …

Renewable Biomethane – an Economic Alternative?

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Biofuels Leave a Comment

Compressed natural gas (CNG) has several things going for it.  It is cheaper than gasoline or diesel fuel, has lower emissions, and for a conventional piston-engined airplane, is the equivalent of over 130 octane, far more powerful than 100-octane low lead (100LL) and cleaner burning. CNG Fuels in England CNG filling stations are growing across the country as fleet owners take advantage of the economics of converting their vehicles, but are still few and far between in the west, with the exception of California.  There are under 900 stations throughout America.  Alluring as CNG might be for drivers, pilots used to paying $5.50 per gallon for avgas should be charmed by CNG’s price of $1.00 per gallon equivalent. That is …

SolarStratos Unveils a High-flying Motorglider

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Electric Powerplants, Electric Aircraft Components, Solar Power, Announcements Leave a Comment

Raphael Domjan is an adventurer in every sense of the word.  He’s sailed around the world on solar power, and attempted to paddle his way across the Northwest Passage in a solar-powered kayak. And now, he’s revealed an airplane that could carry him to the stratosphere on solar power. SolarStratos is a 24.9-meter (81.7 feet) span motorglider shown to the public for the first time yesterday in Payerne, Switzerland.  With stage smoke and rock-concert lighting glittering from the solar cells on its wings and tail, the Calin Gologan-designed craft materialized before the crowd of 400 (according to Calin) gathered in the specially-built hangar. At a loaded weight of only 450 kilograms (990 pounds), SolarStratos should climb well on its dual motor, …

GP14 motor prop

A New Twist on Retractable Motors

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Electric Powerplants, Electric Aircraft Components, Batteries Leave a Comment

GP Sailplanes in Poland recently partnered with MGM Compro of the Czech Republic to add electric power to its line of small, sleek sailplanes.  Concentrating initially on the 13.5 meter racing class (44.29 feet), GP’s craft provide high performance with light weight and compact dimensions. A Long Reach on the Antares Putting a retractable motor and folding propeller into such a tight space required some clever engineering.  Think of the tall mast on the Lange Antares or the Arcus two-seater.  These are large, heavier machines, so the propeller, mast and motor can be accommodated (tightly) in their fuselage.  The video gives a good view of just how close the quarters are on the Antares at about the 3:14 mark.  With …

5X Lithium Sulfur Battery with a Gut Feeling

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Electric Aircraft Materials, Batteries Leave a Comment

Bio-mimicry presents itself in aerodynamics, from the emulation of soaring bird’s wing shapes on sailplane’s surfaces to owl-feather-like trailing edges on wind turbines.  We don’t often think of biological equivalents in energy storage (your editor didn’t until now, at least).  But researchers at Cambridge University in England and the Beijing Institute of Technology in China have turned to the small intestine for their breakthrough in battery development. Tiny cells lining the human intestine inspired these researchers to develop a prototype of a lithium-sulfur battery that they claim could have five times the energy density of conventional lithium-ion batteries.  Dr. Paul Coxon from Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy says “This gets us a long way through the bottleneck which …