Green Flight Challenge: It Might Look Like a Quickie…

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 11 Comments

But it will be the Feuling Green Flight Challenger, an entirely new iteration of the Quickie “formula” if Gene Sheehan, Vic Turner, Luke Leatherman and Allon McBee have their way.  Created in the wake of the Vari-Eze’s and Long-Eze’s of the early 1970’s, the original Quickie was an 18-horsepower Onan industrial engine-powered irreducible flying machine with great speed for its low power and unbelievable fuel economy.  The team’s GFC Challenger is electric, and a far cry from its cast iron past – or the iron-horse Harley-Davidson motorcycles that are part of its surroundings. “Feuling” comes from the high-performance motorcycle and automobile developer who started the company bearing his name.  Jim Feuling had over 100 patents to his name, worked with …

Go Skynch Yourself – And Smile About It

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Jack Lambie, an early hang-glider pilot, wrote in a mid-seventies’ Soaring Magazine of a dream cross-country using ultralight sailplanes with self-launching devices that allowed high launches from flat ground when foot launching was not practical.  Lambie would be proud of recent developments in Denmark. Three years ago, we first noted the Skynch, a paraglider (potentially hang glider) self-launching device under development.  Then it seemed to disappear from view, only to re-emerge as a fully-developed electric winch with a remote for the pilot.  The self-controlled nature of the setup allows a pilot to literally pull him or herself into the blue. The video, which the Skynch people do not allow to be embedded here, gives a convincing demonstration of the system’s ease of use …

A Thousand-Fold Point of Light

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

Shortly after reading of MIT’s 100-fold breakthrough in light-gathering capabilities for solar cells, we saw the news about a one-thousand-fold increase claimed by Rice University researchers.  Professor of physics and astronomy Doug Natelson announced the findings of his research group, which includes his graduate student Dan Ward, and colleagues in Germany and Spain. In his blog, Natelson stated, “My student (with theorist collaborators) had a paper published online in Nature Nanotechnology yesterday, and this gives me an excuse to talk about using metal nanostructures as optical antennas. The short version: using metal electrodes separated by a sub-nanometer gap as a kind of antenna, we have been able to get local enhancement of the electromagnetic intensity by roughly a factor of …

The Light at the End of the Funnel

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

In some exciting news that could make several quantum leaps in solar cell performance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have announced a hundred-fold increase in light gathering capabilities for solar cells. If a cell were able to exploit this increase, an aircraft such as the Solar Impulse could fly on 120 solar cells instead of the 12,000 now spread across its over 200-foot wingspan. We’ve reported on carpet-like light-capturing formats for increasing solar cell output, but the MIT approach funnels light down a multi-carbon nanotube filament, boosting the output of the “tiny” solar cell at the bottom. MIT’s press release explains the outcome. “’Instead of having your whole roof be a photovoltaic cell, you could have little spots that were …

Solar Impulse – Swiss Pride

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Andre’ Borschberg, CEO of the Solar Impulse project, has been flying the giant airplane over many scenic and civic sites in Switzerland, crossing from its home field at Payerne to Geneva International Airport on September 21, and then returning the same day to Payerne.  The next day, Borschberg cruised to Zurich International Airport and returned to the plane’s home base.  As quoted in the project’s press release, Borschberg was happy about the chance to view Switzerland from his rare and lofty perch.  “’These flights are just amazing! Thanks to the plane’s low speed, I was able to discover Switzerland from a completely new angle, fully taking in the beauty of our country!’ said André Borschberg, CEO and Co-founder of Solar …

Launching on a Leaf Blower and a Hacker

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Paul Dewhurst and Dr. Paul Robertson, chronicled in an earlier entry about their simultaneous electric ultralight flights last year, have created another first, a parallel hybrid motorglider launch. The truncated flight of their Alatus took place on September 9, 2010 at Sywell Aerodrome, between Coventry and Cambridge north of London. Dewhurst notes, “Flight was quite short though (around 1.5 minutes) after the controller suffered a bit of tantrum complete with sparks! Rework [is] in process and we hope to have a rather longer flight soon.” Replacing the Lynch unit normally used in the Alatus’s motorized version with an unspecified 76cc, 2.8 kilowatt (3.75 horsepower) internal combustion four-stroke leaf blower unit paralleled with a Hacker A200 12 kilowatt (16 horsepower) large model airplane …

Boeing SolarEagle – The Five-Year Flyer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Whether ferreting out insurgents in Afghanistan or monitoring agricultural trends in America, the ability to stay overhead and continue in a mission is of great importance for an aircraft providing aerial intelligence. Our recent stories about 200-foot span, hybrid electric HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) aircraft being tested at NASA Dryden Test Flight Center at Edwards Air Force Base showed a pair of large aircraft with the ability to stay up for a week, a persistence of overhead vision that is astonishing.  Now Boeing has announced a bigger, wildly more persistent vehicle, the SolarEagle, 435 feet in span, capable of floating around at 60,000 feet on solar/electric power for five years.  The 6,000 pound airframe can carry a payload of …

Richard Van Grunsven’s Antares 20E

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

In a visit to Richard Van Grunsven’s airport home, just across the Sunset Highway from North Plains, Oregon, this blogger was privileged to get a closeup view of his Antares 20E, an electric self-launching sailplane from Germany’s Lange Aviation.  Spanning 20 meters (65.6 feet), the gleaming white ship has fluidity of line and integrity of design one would expect from Gerhard Waibel (the “W” in Alexander Schleicher’s ASW sailplanes).  The outstanding feature that sets this particular long-span craft apart is its 42 kilowatt (57 horsepower) motor, snugged neatly into a bay behind the pilot, and raised on a carbon-fiber mast by a smooth electric/hydraulic mechanism.  A cylindrical unit, the motor’s outer shell rotates about a stationary hub attached to the …

Smallest Four-Motor Electric Plane Flies

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

For a company that employs over 119,000 and has annual revenues approaching 43 billion Euros ($55 billion), the Cri-Cri (Cricket) seems a minuscule part of their enterprise, but garners a huge share of publicity.  Reporters and photographers flocked to Le Bourget field near Paris on September 2 to record the first flight of the petite creation.  The EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V.)  press release explains the excitement.   The all electric Cri-Cri, jointly developed by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association has made its official maiden flight at Le Bourget airport near Paris on Thursday. This Cri-Cri is the first-ever four-engined all-electric aerobatic plane. The event has been supported by the French Musée …

Life Cycle Analysis and a Letter Grade

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA) have published a study in the current edition of the journal, Environmental Science & Technology, “Contribution of Li-Ion Batteries to the Environmental Impact of Electric Vehicles.”  The paper is available in its entirety online. It’s abstract notes that, “Little is known about the environmental impacts of the production, use and disposal of the lithium ion (Li-ion) battery. This makes it difficult to compare the environmental impacts of BEVs with those of internal combustion engine cars (ICEVs). Consequently, a detailed lifecycle inventory of a Li-ion battery and a rough LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) of BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) based mobility were compiled.”  This blog has an earlier introduction to …