Gérard Thevenot Wins E-Flight Award at AERO 2010

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

With over 30 electrical flight exhibitors at Friedrichshafen, Germany’s Aero 2010 International Exposition for General Aviation, selection of this year’s E-Flight Award winner must have been particularly difficult. The”E”of the E-Flight portion of the huge show represents, “Electrical, Ecological and Evolutionary.” Thevenot’s machine is all those. Gérard Thevenot flew his hydrogen-powered ultralight “trike” across the English Channel in July, 2009 (“Man of La Manche”, October 29, 2009), with a Geiger/Eck HP-10 electric motor powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, “without the onboard presence of an accumulator or battery.” Showing his 55 kilogram (121 pounds), seven kilowatt (11 horsepower), 12 meter (37 feet) span ultralight at last year’s Expo, he went on to demonstrate its capabilities in the following months. Its …

Solar Impulse – the Movie

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse’s first flight was recorded and edited in fine style, which we share here, courtesy of the Solar Impulse project and YouTube. Note the apparent crosswind on landing, and Marcus Scherdel’s masterful handling of it. Note also that both outboard motors are shut down during the landing. A mere zephyr has a large effect on this beautiful, large, extremely slow craft. As the project’s backers note, the airplane has the size of an Airbus, the weight of a compact car, and the power of a scooter.

An Hour and 27 Minutes in the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The press release and pictures tell a beautiful story.  The CAFE Foundation offers its congratulations to the Solar Impulse team. This morning (April 7, 2010) at 10:27, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off from Payerne (VD) airfield on its maiden flight. Under the eyes of thousands of spectators from all over Switzerland, Solar Impulse HB-SIA slowly climbed up to 1200 meters. The next 87 minutes Solar Impulse test pilot Markus Scherdel spent familiarizing himself with the prototype’s flight behaviour and performing the initial flight exercises before making the first landing on the Vaudois tarmac. The execution of these various manoeuvres (turns, simulating the approach phase) was designed to get a feel for the aircraft and verify its controllability. “This first flight was …

Biofuels, But at What Cost?

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Jasmine Green, writing in Care2 Causes.com (“The future of Biodiesel Fuels“) , explains that all is not as it seems in the quest for clean fuel alternatives. Many of the biofuel plants noted in this blog (see “EQ2 Has a High Fuel IQ”, February 11, 2010) are indeed being grown and are producing oil for fuel, but, as reported in Care2 Causes, at a cost to the overall environment. Citing Treehugger.com, she notes that Brazil is seeing ranchers being displaced to make way for the planting of oil-bearing plants, and that ranchers move further into the rain forest and deforest the area to raise cattle. This indirect deforestation contributes, according to Ms. Green, to 41 to 59 percent of all …

The Future is Electric, and Attracting Attention

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 0 Comments

FlightGlobal.com, the online version of Flight International Magazine, has an overview of the electric aircraft scene in its April 6, 2010 release.   Among the many producers and proponents of electric flight noted in the article, Dr. Brien Seeley of the CAFE Foundation is quoted extensively, as is Calin Gologan of PC-Aero in Germany, both to present at the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, at Rohnert Park, California on April 23 and 24.  The article ponders the hopes of two hybrid electric aircraft powerplant developers, George Bye, featured in a February 21 entry in this blog, and Flight Design’s Oliver Reinhardt, the firm’s technical director.  Both face the issue of retrofitting existing light planes with their new engines, and the challenge …

Shaping Plastics into Inexpensive Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 0 Comments

Dr. Yeuh-Lin Loo, an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering, has led a team of Princeton, University of Texas – Austin, Pennsylvania State University, University of California – Santa Barbara, and Dupont researchers in developing a conductive plastic that takes the place of expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) used in solar cells, flat-screen TVs, and other electronic devices with display screens.  ITO, a byproduct of mining, is rare and expensive, but a necessity in today’s electronics.  An inexpensive substitute would be desirable in bringing costs down and removing pressure from the growing demand for ITO.  Loo comments on this in the Princeton press release.  “The cost of indium tin oxide is skyrocketing.  To bring down the costs of plastic solar cells, …

Silicon Alloy Anode Yields 30-Percent More Capacity

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Just for notebook computers now, enough of these -as in the over 6,000 such cells that propel a Tesla, could have a profound short-term effect on our hopes for electric flight. The 18650 (18 mm in diameter, 65 mm long) cells by Panasonic are the first to offer a silicon alloy anode, a commercial verification of the research Drs. Cui and Cho have been performing. Panasonic promises 4.0 Amp hours capacity, almost 30-percent more than current lithium cells of the same size. This allows a notebook battery pack almost half the size of one using graphite anode cells. The good news is balanced by the fact that the Si-based cell, at 54 grams each, weighs 10 grams more than the …

Overcome Inertia, Read About Enertia

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

David Bettencourt, an eagle-eyed legal eagle in Hawaii, prompted me to pick up a copy of the April, 2010 Cycle World magazine, in which two articles advance the cause of electric transport.  The first,”Brammo Enertia”, is a critique of the electric cycle that you can buy at Best Buy.  It details the long-term interest of company founder Craig Bramscher in electric vehicles, and his analysis that a vehicle with sufficient range for today’s suburbanite, based on normal commuting needs and available technology, would have two wheels – hence the Enertia.  Matthew Miles, author of the piece, does a good job of comparing performance with a 250-cc Kawasaki Ninja.  Although the Enertia is no match for the IC-powered machine in off-the-line sprints or top speed, it wins …

Trikebuggy Addendum

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In “Two Motors and Everything But Coffee,” our entry for February 28, we detailed Pierre-Jean Beney’s Hacker motor-powered Trikebuggy.  Pierre-Jean wants to change things, including, “The motor, the prop, the battery and the wing… So I am still somewhat away from where I want to have….” Currently, it takes 2,000 propeller revolutions per minute to maintain level flight.  The LiF2PO4 batteries allow a current draw of 160 Amps at 48 Volts, and will produce level flight power for about 22 minutes at this rate.  These are, according to Pierre-Jean, very safe batteries, but heavy.  Pierre-Jean’s new batteries are Li-Po, which will give 52 Volts at the same amperage, but are, in his estimation, less safe.  They are also lighter, weighing only 6.6 kilograms …

Cutting Grass with Manfred Ruhmer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Uncategorized 0 Comments

Manfred Ruhmer has designed a motorized trike for the Laminar wing under which he has flown to world champion status three times, and achieved a world record flight of 701 kilometers (434.62 miles).  The trike can be powered with a Simonini two-stroke or Bailey four-stroke engine, or the Geiger/Eck electric motor/controller/folding propeller combination. Here, Manfred shows off some of his world-class flying skills.  Note that about 40 seconds into the video, the landing gear has picked up some vegetation.  Later, at around the 2:00 mark, the streamers reappear.  Whether this is from the grassy field from which Manfred flies, or some very low passes, is open to speculation. The Icaro 2000 site is useful for making some important comparisons between the IC engine options …