SA Symposium 2017 – An April Festival of Electric Flight

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, GFC, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, SAS, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

April 21 and 22, 2017, set your GPS for N 37° 31′ 20.84” W 122° 15′ 38.31” – the Hotel Pullman San Francisco Bay.  The refined and beautiful setting and four-star accommodations make a grand accompaniment to the story we will share. The story of the 2017 Sustainable Aviation Symposium includes the latest in aerodynamics, electric power and energy storage.  It’s a grand and sweeping review, told by talented intellects in the context of using the latest technology to help save the planet.  A few exemplars of the program highlight this year’s story, “ A Keynote Address from a Master Designer Tine Tomazic, Director of Research and Development for Pipistrel, created the G4 to win the 2011 Green Flight Challenge, …

CubeSats, Airplanes Made of Batteries?

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Luke Roberson, Dr. Ryan Karkkainen, and Dr. Xiangyang Zhou are now collaborating on “Creating a structural battery material [that] could revolutionize the way NASA operates small payloads.”  Batteries now take up 20 to 35 percent of the volume in some CubeSats, 10 centimeters (3.97 inches) ×10 cm. × 11.35 cm (4.47 inches) cubes, as the name implies.  Each CubeSat can weight up to 1.33 kilograms (2.93 pounds). Normally made of aluminum, CubeSats carry batteries for communication, storing energy collected from solar cells on their host vehicles, or powering sensors, cameras, and providing environmental norms for science experiments they carry.  Obviously, their small size dictates using every square centimeter wisely.  Replacing their inert walls with a structural battery could free …

 George Bye – Electric Aerospace in Small, Medium and Large

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

George Bye has been crafting and testing electric aircraft for the last decade and now has four craft of varying size demonstrating the reach of his vision.  Bill Moore interviewed George for EVWorld.com recently.  We’ll review the airplanes with which George is involved, starting small and working up to a spectacular cross-country cruiser. Silent Falcon Although the UAV company associated with the Silent Falcon is not part of Bye Aerospace, it had its origins there.  Now located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Silent Falcon operations are overseen by John Brown, former Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Bye Energy. Silent Falcon’s glider-like 14-foot wing, high efficiency airfoil, electric power and high-efficiency solar cells allow up to five-hour surveillance flights.  Its ability to …

TAG – You’re Down!

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

Nailing the landing is a big test for gymnasts, birds, and in the near future – for electric commuter aircraft.  Landing in an impossibly short distance seemed like a mission only for helicopters until recently.  Fixed-wing machines seem at a disadvantage here, rotary-wing craft having the edge in being able to set down almost anywhere, and on the proverbial dime.  Brien Seeley’s TAG may make it possible for fixed-wing craft to emulate birds. Fixed-wing craft have the advantage in point-to-point speed – a big selling point for commuter craft.  High cruising speeds and short ground runs seem mutually exclusive, although new designs and inspired amateurs are showing the way to combining the best of both worlds. First, it’s apparent from …

Otherlab’s Cardboard Drone – “A Pizza Box… Shaped into a Wing”

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A disposable drone that will make a one-way trip to a disaster area won’t add to the suffering if it dissolves within a few weeks of delivering its life-saving cargo.  That’s the promise of the “Aerial Platform Supporting Autonomous Resupply Actions” (APSARA), currently being developed by Otherlab, a San Francisco-based group specializing in next-generation creations.  Funded by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), APSARA is part of their ICARUS program (Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems).  The acronyms are becoming overwhelming. Disposable medical supplies are a commonplace in today’s clinics and hospitals.  A recent chat with a nurse elicited her concern that medical supplies were so readily disposable.  Latex or nitrile gloves, single-use syringes, and protective paper covers and wraps …

Pop.Up – Airbus Pops Up with Another VTOL Commuter

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

What will Pop.Up next?  We’re floating away, being carried skyward by PAL-V’s, JetPack’s 12-rotor machine, e-volo’s 16-rotor design, and even Hoversurf’s four-rotor flying donor-cycle. At least a half-dozen other varieties of VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) commuter machines are coming at us with bewildering speed.  If nothing else, the competing visions of future aerial transport show some kind of deeply felt need to escape the surly bonds of earth, or at least its eternal gridlock. Airbus has already played one hand, showing its cards with Silicon Valley-based A3 (A Cubed) and a vehicle looking like a combination of NASA’s X-57 Maxwell and Joby Aviation’s S2.  It pulled another card from its sleeve this week at the Geneva Auto Show, unveiling …

Metamaterial Knows No Bounds

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Jonathan Berger has come up with a foam structure that will make it more than the ephemeral filling in composite construction sandwiches.  Isomax™ foam could be the entire structure because of its unique geometry.  He claims it to be the world’s first material to achieve structural performance predicted by theoretical bounds. His letter in the journal Nature describes the geometry Berger and his collaborators created to enable such lightness, strength, and versatility.  Berger, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB’s mechanical engineering department, worked with mechanical engineering professor Robert McMeeking and materials scientist Haydn N. G. Wadley from the University of Virginia to prove the ideas Berger first conceived in 2015. This solid foam, “a combination of stiff substance and air pockets,” …

Hoversurf – The Russians are coming with Flying Bikes

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Hoversurf, a Russian flying motorcycle, has been getting a lot of press lately.  “Looks like a hell of a ride,” trumpets TheNextWeb.  Mashable headlines, “The first manned hoverbike could finally fulfill your ‘Star Wars’ dreams,” but points out, “Those dangerous-looking propellers spinning right next to the pilot’s legs.” New Atlas (formerly Gizmag) says it is, “Equally amazing and horrifying.” Hoversurf’s Scorpion evokes Star Wars with its clean white gloss.  But like the movie’s speeder bikes flung about by heroes and villains alike, seems equally dangerous with its wooden propellers at two different heights – ankle-biter and knee-slapper.  Protective shields theoretically will prevent slicing and dicing, and future plans call for an enclosed cabin with the occupant more secure from maceration. …

Safe Rechargeable Solid State Batteries

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If the man responsible for co-invention of the lithium-ion battery says he has found ways to make it better while eliminating its less desirable characteristics – we will listen.  94-year-old John Goodenough, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, says as much.  He and researchers including Maria Helena Braga, claim to have created “A low-cost all-solid-state battery that is noncombustible and has a long cycle life (battery life) with a high volumetric energy density and fast rates of charge and discharge.”  Their findings can be found in the journal, Energy & Environmental Science. Non-combustibility is a big sales point for those worried about having their vape pipe vaporize their underwear, or having a …

Jetpacks to VTOL Multi-Rotors

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

You see a lot of articles petulantly demanding, “Dude, where’s my jetpack?” or “Where’s my flying car?”  It’s a bit like wanting a Formula 1 racer in which to commute, and fraught with similar problems.  An F1 race car, for instance, demands incredible driving skills – that’s why most F1 drivers are incredibly well compensated.  A jetpack is a very short-range machine.  Strapping one on, avoiding scorch marks on your heels and zipping even a mile or two might actually take more time than walking, or hopping on a bike. From James Bond to Civilian Use James Bond’s use of a Bell Rocket Belt to escape goons in Thunderball made it look quick, easy, and a great way to find …

Will You Be Able to Print the Solar Cells for Your Wings?

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

That may sound like a silly question, but thin-film solar cells are pushing the boundaries of lightness and efficiency that will make them viable candidates for use on aircraft.  Looking back at earlier achievements demonstrates the great things that can be done with limited resources.  Eric Raymond, for instance, made a solar-powered flight across the United States in 1990 on amorphous solar cells that were only about two percent efficient. His Sunseeker Duo, which he flies around Italy and Switzerland with Irena, his wife and co-builder, has modern thin-film cells that are 23-percent efficient – a ten-fold gain.  Before that, the earliest two solar-powered flights were charged by big, round solar cells, not terribly efficient and lacking full coverage of …