Silicon Alloy Anode Yields 30-Percent More Capacity

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

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 Leave a Comment

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

Dean Sigler Uncategorized Leave a Comment

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 Leave a Comment

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 …

EAS IV is Your Ticket to an Electric Aircraft Future

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

This press release from the CAFE Foundation speaks for itself. The fourth symposium of its kind is an international, multidiscipline gathering which will  influence the very future of aviation. Santa Rosa, CA., Mar. 1, 2010 – The Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation’s 4th Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS IV) will convene a renowned faculty of experts on electric aircraft technologies on April 23-24, 2010, at the Doubletree Inn in Rohnert Park, California. The networking program will consist of presentations and exhibits on bio-fuel hybrids, advanced electric motors, solar panels, sailplane technology, fuel cells, future technology for batteries, battery safety during charging, propeller noise reduction, autonomous flight controls, drag reduction, vertical takeoff designs and NASA’s Green Flight Challenge competition. Each …

A Manned Swift Takes Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Uncategorized 3 Comments

Dr. Steve Morris is President of MLB Co., an enterprise specializing in low-cost, compact, remotely piloted and autonomous aerial surveillance, mapping and monitoring systems.  On December 23, 2009, he and his associates test flew their first man-carrying, directly-piloted craft – an electric one. Pilot Brian Porter made two flights totalling about 20 minutes in a part 103 ultralight Swift hang glider to which was attached a custom-built pilot/powerplant/landing gear module.  Power was by a Randall Fisher-supplied ElectraFlyer motor coupled to a reduction system built by Dr.  Morris and his associates at MLB. Despite limitation imposed by the motor controller’s maximum current and propeller efficiency limited to 65-75 percent, the airplane demonstrated performance within 10 percent of calculations.  Its rate of climb was 335 feet per minute, …

Two Motors and Everything but Coffee

Dean Sigler Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Pierre-Jean Beney may be the first to fly an electrically-powered paraglider with a tricycle wheeled chassis. Using a Trikebuggy, itself a unique platform, Beney mounted two Hacker A200-8 motors with 220 Amp controllers, a tidy reduction system, and his own microprocessor board to drive the motors with a combined throttle and kill switch. The board, according to Beney, also monitors the LiF2PO4 batteries, RPM, and will soon be connected to a global positioning system (GPS) to measure speed, “and eventually make coffee!!!” Other anticipated changes may include different motors, including a larger, direct drive type. The motors are each capable of producing 15 kW and can handle 185 Amps of current continuously, with 300 Amps peak. Beney provided your editor …

Doing More With Much, Much Less

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 1 Comment

This dictum from Paul MacCready that we can do a great deal more with far less material expenditure is well realized in a big way by researchers at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) with their new type of solar cell. Using about two percent of the silicon semiconductor material normally required for crystalline cells, and achieving a high level of energy conversion, the new cells may also be relatively inexpensive to manufacture. As noted by Harry Atwater in Caltech’s press release, “These solar cells have, for the first time, surpassed the conventional light-trapping limit for absorbing materials…” Atwater is Howard Hughes Professor, professor of applied physics and materials science, and director of Caltech’s Resnick Institute, which according to the …

Give Up Smoking Today, Get Better Mileage

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Critics of biofuels often cite the contrary use of foodstocks for producing ethanol, for instance, as a process that will lead to food shortages, and consequently higher prices for fuel and food. One researcher and his graduate students are investigating a way to convert waste such as orange peels and old newspapers, and social and health irritants such as tobacco plants, and turn them into a cheap, clean fuel. Dr. Henry Daniell is head of the Biotechnology Graduate Program forthe Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. His primary fields of research include developing low-cost methods of delivering pharmaceuticals to patients in need and even vaccines to combat terrorist bioweapons. Involvement with plant-based …

Bye Energy’s Green Flight Project

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 5 Comments

In his presentation at AirVenture 2009, George Bye, CEO of Bye Energy, set forth some ambitious goals for his company. This included the development of a hybrid electric power system for light aircraft (under 250 horsepower) with target markets for general aviation and experimental homebuilt aircraft. Bye explained that light, powerful electric motors and Lithium-ion batteries have achieved a mature technology level that makes this an ideal time to enter this new market. On February 18, Bye introduced the proof of concept systems that will enable him to achieve this.   The Green Flight Project consists, in its first phase, of an electric motor based on the UQM 125, a 90-pound, 95-percent efficient unit that puts out up to 168 horsepower (output …