VerdeGo’s Integrated Distributed Power System

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Erik Lindbergh, grandson of the famed trans-Atlantic flight pioneer, has been paying his dues in aviation for decades, working to involve young people in career-building roles, and advocating for “green” aviation.  His latest roles have found him mentoring a group of Embry Riddle students in developing an electric HK-36 (shown last year at AirVenture), and in developing one of the over 100 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) potential sky taxis coming into public view.  That sky taxi may not make it to market, but Lindbergh and partners’ Integrated Distributed Power system is headed that way. At the 2017 AirVenture, he shared the news that he was working on something exciting.  That turned out to be the VerdeGo project, an …

Pipistrel leads MAHEPA – European hybrid research

Dean Sigler Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Aviation Week’s Graham Warwick reports, “Europe plans to develop and test modular hybrid-electric propulsion technology using light aircraft as testbeds, but it is also studying whether the system can be scaled up to power 19- and 70-seat commercial aircraft.  The MAHEPA Program intends to bring cleaner skies to Europe. Pipistrel, the Slovenian winner of NASA’s Green Flight Challenge in 2011, leads the 9 million euro ($10.4 million) program.  Modular Hybrid Electric Propulsion Architecture (MAHEPA), funded as part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research program, will use real flight data to recommend how to reduce aviation carbon emissions 70-percent by 2050. Pipistrel will supply two well-tested aircraft for HAHEPA’s continued investigation of lowering emissions and expanding performance capabilities.  First, its …

Zephyr Breaks Its Own Record – Again

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The Royal Aeronautical Society, official record keeper for such things, announced in an August 8 press release, “Taking off from Arizona, US on 11 July, Airbus Defense’s solar-powered UAV (unpiloted aerial vehicle), the British-built Zephyr S, has smashed the existing endurance record for unrefueled, unmanned flight by staying aloft for 25 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes. This, the maiden flight of the production Zephyr S HAPS (high altitude pseudo satellite) for the UK MoD (United Kingdom Ministry of Defense), once verified, almost doubles the existing endurance flight record of 14 days, 22 minutes for UAVs, set by a previous Zephyr prototype in 2010. The solar-powered Zephyr UAV, which weighs less than 75 [kilograms – 165 pounds], flies at 70,000ft, …

Lowered Resistance, Greater Spontaneity with Solid-State Batteries

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Paradoxically, almost every battery breakthrough seems to have an accompanying problem, and battery developers end up sometimes ditching the positive because of an overriding negative.  Solid-state batteries promise some gains without compromise, though. Conventional lithium-ion batteries have possibly reached the limit of their capacity, some scientists fear, and still remain prone to issues like thermal runaway.  Developers have looked at solid-state battery designs in which even the electrolyte is solid and not prone to bursting into flame.  These batteries promise to have higher energy densities and longer lives, but high resistance at the electrolyte-electrode interface tends to interfere with charging and discharging speeds. Two groups of researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have been taking different approaches to creating …

Coots and e-Gulls at Oshkosh

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Lead image shows Mark Beierle in the Soaring Gull of his design with which he accompanied Richard Steeves to Oshkosh. As many readers know, Richard Steeves, a physician and teacher at the University of Wisconsin – Madison is also a builder and long-time advocate for an amphibious aircraft called the Coot.  He publishes the Coot Builders Newsletter and stages a recurring AirVenture event, a yearly get-together of fellow Coot builders.  Recently, he got into electric aviation and has built and flies Bravo, an e-Gull designed by Mark Beierle.  Richard’s newsletter now features articles about amphibians and electric flight. Mark showed up at Richard’s hangar at the Sauk Prairie Airport, a lovely stretch of green bordered by hangars and bisected by …

Flow Batteries Aging Well

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

As previously noted in the blog, the Tissandier Brothers flew their Siemens-powered electric airship in 1883 using a flow battery of their own design for energy storage.  This technology gets a lot of attention for grid-based energy storage, but might have use in more mobile applications.  Nano Flow Cell Technologies in Switzerland, for instance, used different salt waters to power their Quant and Quantino automobiles. Howard Handelman, a regular reader of the blog, shared the following two researches into modernizing flow cells.  Stanford and Harvard researchers both cooked up different ingredients than one would normally find in a flow battery.  Both groups achieved better than average performance and longevity. Stanford’s Liquid Metal Approach Stanford’s battery uses liquid metal that more …

Funneling Light and Energy with New Materials

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Adolfo De Sanctis, a Research Fellow in the Quantum Systems and Nanomaterials group at the University of Exeter (UK), earned his Ph. D. in physics with a dissertation on “Manipulating light in two-dimensional layered materials” (Nature Communications, May 2017).  The video below gives a short-hand view of his work. Other, less scholarly outlets (like this one) give an easy-to-read view of what he has accomplished, and why his research is of interest for many applications – including energy harvesting. Green Optimistic reports, “A team of researchers from the University of Exeter developed a solar cell with a record 60% efficiency. The idea behind this breakthrough is similar to using a ‘funnel’: corralling an amorphous collection of electrical charges into …

Icarus Cup Achieves New Records

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Doing more with much less, British pilots at this year’s Icarus Cup follow in Paul MacCready’s aerial path, staging a highly successful weeklong demonstration of human-powered flight.  Airplanes that fly on about a quarter-kilowatt for as long as the human battery can operate the pedals are not new, and significant records have been achieved over the years. The British have long been involved, beginning with the 590 meters flight by Derek Piggott on November 9, 1961 in SUMPAC (Southampton University’s Man Powered Aircraft – note the sexist terminology of the day).  This was considered the first authenticated takeoff and flight by a human powerplant.  He made 40 flights before suffering a crash that damaged a wing. To help foster interest …

Riding the Sunshine Highway

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Sunday, July 22 found your editor at Bend, Oregon’s High Desert Museum for the finish of the 2018 American Solar Challenge.  The race started in Omaha, Nebraska on July 14 and followed parts of the Oregon National Historic Trail and the Lewis and Clark Trail. Omaha, NE (Starting line) – July 14 Grand Island, NE (Checkpoint) – July 14 Gering, NE (Stage stop) – July 15 – 16 Casper, WY (Checkpoint) – July 16 Lander, WY (Stage stop) – July 17-18 Farson, WY (Checkpoint) – July 18 Arco, ID (Stage stop) – July 19 – 20 Mountain Home, ID (Checkpoint) – July 20 Burns, OR (Stage stop) – July 21 – 22 Bend, OR (Finish line) – July 22 Teams …

John Goodenough’s Counterintuitive Battery

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

A Long and Productive Life On his 96th birthday today, John Goodenough and his research team’s latest findings are the subject of much speculation.  He, fellow scientist Maria Braga, and his research team have created a battery claimed to be three times as energy dense as existing lithium-ion contemporaries, but exhibiting the counterintuitive property of improving with repeated charging cycles. Goodenough’s career began in 1943 (a year after your editor was born) with the award of his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Yale University, followed his master’s and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago in 1951 and 1952 respectively.  He worked at MIT and in 1976, left to become head of Oxford University’s Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory from 1976 …