Faradair BEHA, an Electric Triplane for the Future

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Triplanes were popular in World War One because they allowed great maneuverability for dog-fighting, a supreme survival necessity.  Their success in designs by Fokker and Sopwith, among others, gave them a certain panache.  Now, a Bristol, England-based company hopes to revive the triplane as a commuter aircraft ready to fly from regional airports. Faradair®, named after English physicist Michael Faraday*, hopes to craft an airplane that will allow flight from smaller regional airports and compete with even well-established rail service.  Their craft, BEHA – Bio-Electric Hybrid Aircraft, will fly six to eight lucky passengers on a quiet inter-city ride powered by a 300-horsepower internal combustion engine and two electric motors in a parallel-hybrid arrangement. Neil Cloughley, Managing Director and Founder …

Better Battery Materials – Asphalt?

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

Asphalt, Graphene, and a Lithium Coating Mike Williams, reporting for Rice University in Houston, Texas, writes, “A touch of asphalt may be the secret to high-capacity lithium metal batteries that charge 10 to 20 times faster than commercial lithium-ion batteries, according to Rice University scientists.” We’ve written about James Tour and his laboratory before.  He and his students come up with a plethora of new energy ideas and are able to demonstrate some exciting outcomes.  His latest effort mixes asphalt with conductive graphene nanoribbons, and then electrochemically coats the composite with lithium metal to form a battery anode. The anode, when combined with a sulfurized-carbon cathode, was used in full batteries for testing.  The results seem a bit incredible, with …

Jeff Engler’s Wright Aero Leaps Into Green Flight

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Partnering with easyJet, a UK-based budget airline, to build an electric airliner capable of carrying 150 passengers on sub-two-hour flights, Wright Aero will substitute electrons for liquid fuel on one-fifth of EasyJet’s trips.  Finding a ready collaborator in easyJet’s Carolyn McCall, Engler has a partner who is already making inroads into making jet flight cleaner.  “’We can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it. It is now more a matter of when not if a short haul electric plane will fly,’ said EasyJet CEO McCall,” in an interview with The Guardian. Engler added, in his latest Wright Weport: “First, the context is on Wednesday easyJet announced a partnership with us during their Innovation …

Boeing Announces Zunum Progress, Acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences

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

Boeing made two announcements this week that show the maker of large aircraft willing to investigate niche markets at smaller scales and with more personal service for flyers.  Both involve electric power and the potential for automated flight. Zunum To Fly by 2020, In Service by 2022 Zunum Aero, the Boeing- and Jet Blue-backed regional airliner startup, will begin development of a 10-to-12 passenger airplane, hybrid powered with large electric ducted fans at the rear of the fuselage.  Having flown on earlier examples of 10-passenger “airliners,” your editor welcomes this smaller package.  Ford Trimotors and DeHavilland Dragons carried passengers in the 1930s, with simple accommodations and window seats for all.  The single-aisle made boarding and deplaning easy and quick, and …

David Ullman: Flying on Multiple Tiny Motors

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

David Ullman, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, predicted electric flight’s future in articles in 2009* and 2010**.  His predictions have come (mostly) true and David is working to fulfill the rest.  His background in mechanical and aeronautical engineering provides credibility for his prognostications, and he’s taking practical steps to take electric aviation to a next, very creative level. While Uber’s Elevate Summit in Dallas earlier this year focused on big-money players in the vertical aviation world, David and co-creator Vincent H. Homer promoted their paper, “The IDEAL for Near-VTOL Aircraft.”  IDEAL represents “Integrated Distributed Electric – Augmented Lift” flight, using “thrust from distributed electric propulsion to improve the lift and drag performance of the aircraft during takeoff, cruise …

GoFly and Win Big Prizes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

“Have You Ever Dreamed of Flying?” Boeing asks, and answers its own question: “We’re making that dream a reality.”  Well, actually, the person entering HeroX and Boeing’s GoFly competition will make their own dream a reality, and possibly win substantial sums in the process. Abundance Insider, an Internet outreach from Peter Diamandis, himself well-acquainted with prize competitions, gives an excellent short rundown on the competition. “What it is: HeroX recently announced the GoFly Prize, sponsored by Boeing — a $2 million challenge to create a personal flying machine that is useful, safe and thrilling (italics by the editor). The goal is to foster the development of a safe, quiet, ultra-compact, near-VTOL personal flying device capable of flying 20 miles while …

A Range Extender You Can Ride Home

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Range extenders make any airplane to which they are attached a hybrid aircraft, with an engine-driven generator charging batteries or driving one or more electric motors that provide thrust.  Speaking today at the 7th EASN International Conference on Innovation in European Aeronautics Research, Richard Glassock, a Fellow at the Institute of Aerospace Technology at the University of Nottingham, gave the range extender a completely new mission. His innovation comes in two versions, the RExLite and RExMoto.  RExLite is a simple generator drive that mounts under the aircraft.  RExMoto looks similar – a streamlined pod under the aircraft – but can be converted to a motorcycle when on the ground.  Both “use conventionally-fueled combustion-engine-driven electrical generators to provide energy at peak …

The Lightest Material Encapsulated in the Sheerest

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Scientists may have come up with a process to wrap hydrogen-trapping magnesium with an atom-thick layer of graphene, setting up a scenario to store hydrogen in a weight-saving way. Hydrogen seems to be a perfect fuel, but like all perfect things, an unattainable one.  Its lightness and smallness make it hard to contain, and pressurization required to store it adds weight to its containers.  Flying since 2009, the Lange Antares DLR-H2 has been a test bed for hydrogen-fueled flight.  The DLR (Germany’s NASA) explains, “The developers selected a new, larger pressure vessel that, at 350 bar (5,076 pounds per square inch), now holds five kilograms of hydrogen to replace the previous tank in the external pod on the starboard wing, …

Volocopter Starts Autonomous Air Service Trials in Dubai

Dean Sigler Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

In June, Dubai’s Road and Transit Authority (RTA) announced its plans to test fly Volocopter’s 200 over the country by the last quarter of this year.  The government and Volocopter have succeeded in meeting that timeline, with demonstrations this week of Volocopter’s quiet ability to fly autonomously (although without passengers so far).  Aerial transit will be a small part of a much broader scheme, the government intent on providing excellent public transportation, as shown in this well-produced video. To ensure meeting Dubai’s ambitious goal, Volocopter’s designers tested the machine thoroughly in German skies.  Note the Grob Strato 2C by one of the hangars, the twin-engined airplane in which Einar Enevoldson, founder of the Perlan Project, set the still extant world …

Zeppelins, Blimps and Plimps

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

How about exploring a softer, gentler form of flight?  Certainly, gas-filled envelopes provide a large way to transport goods and people, but for a variety of reasons, have fallen out of favor in recent years.  Several entrepreneurs are trying to revive an old idea. Hanging Over Our Heads One threat hanging over our heads is that of plummeting drones, either having exhausted their short-range batteries or banging up against a tall building.  The infamous video of a drone falling onto a woman in Seattle has been removed from YouTube, probably for legal reasons, but an abundance of others are there for your viewing pleasure. Maybe More Truth than Poetry Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a prescient bit of poetry in 1835, …