From Formula 1 to Your Airplane?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

Imagine a high-energy system that could be dropped in your car for $1,600, give it a 30-percent boost in mileage (and a simultaneous reduction in its carbon footprint), and added pep off the line.  Imagine that this was developed by two of the leaders in Formula 1 racecar development.  You might be interested. Ricardo, a long-time developer of racing engine refinements, and Williams, oft-time winning chassis builder, are collaborating on just such a setup.  Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), developed originally for the 2009 Formula 1 racing season, used flywheels, batteries, and stunningly powerful electric motors (60 kW – 81 horsepower from four to eight kilogram cylinders) to augment the internal-combustion engines motivating the racers.  The systems were controversial and eventually …

Registration Now Open for EAS IV

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Registration for the Fourth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS IV) is now open.  Intense interest in this year’s excellent program, with experts from around the world providing the latest in design, technology, and real-world examples of electric flight, has produced an added benefit for this year’s attendees.   Formal presentations are only one means of exploring a wealth of information at this year’s Symposium.  The CAFE Foundation, hard-pressed to include all presenters, has scheduled Theme Dinners – an opportunity to hear short, thought-provoking presentations and enjoy lively discussions with the faculty, all accompanied by the great food and fine wines for which the Sonoma Valley is renowned.   This expanded program has already drawn an overflow of presenters.  We anticipate a similar high level of interest from …

Structures as Batteries – or Is It Batteries as Structures?

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Imperial College London and its partners, including Volvo, have announced a  £3.4 million (about $5.44 million) project to develop a new energy storage material that could act as a structural material in cars.  The lightweight, carbon-fiber-based material could replace traditional materials in the car’s structure while storing electrical energy.  This dual-purpose material could save the weight of separate batteries, increase the strength of the car’s structure, and improve overall vehicle performance. Dr. Emile Greenhalgh, of the College’s Aeronatical Department, and coordinator of the project, sees other opportunities for this material. “We are really excited about the potential of this new technology. We think the car of the future could be drawing power from its roof, its bonnet (editor’s note: hood, to you Yanks.) or even the …

EQ² Has a High Fuel IQ

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EQ² offers analysis services for clients around the world, their web site introduction citing their goals. “EQ² is a leader in sustainability risk management and environmental inventory systems using accurate environmental measurement and management processes to quantify, benchmark and report an organisation’s risks in regulatory compliance, operational impacts and financial costs.” Among their clients are airlines seeking advice on long-term prospects for alternatives to rapidly-diminishing fossil-derived jet fuels.  Their white paper,  Sustainable Flying: Biofuels as an Economic and Environmental Salve for the Airline Industry, besides having a provocative title, gives some hope for future development of these alternatives. One part of the paper explores the development money put into biofuels and finds that it tracks the rising and falling costs of …

Pulce Elettrica in Italia

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 4 Comments

The Pou Guide site has news of this extremely small Flying Flea variant. Nedo Lavorini, a light 76 kilograms (167 pounds) flew his Pulce Electtrica (Electric Flea) of 74 kg (162.8 pounds – with batteries) on June 28, 2009 at 7:30 in the morning. An all-up weight of 150 kg (330 pounds) allows the use of four Chinese model airplane motors of 2 kW each to power the featherweight Flea. Motors are arranged in two pairs, each pair coupled to a reduction drive through a toothed belt, and all four driving a common propeller. 45-Volt, 64 Amp-hour Lithium-polymer batteries provide up to 40 minutes flying time, according to the Guide. The Pulce’s light weight and tandem wings of 5.3 meter (17.93 …

Electrified Minions of Mignet

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In the 1930’s, Henri Mignet energized the flying world with his Pou-de-Ciel (literally, Louse of the Sky), which bore the more common and somewhat cuter appelation, “Flying Flea.” Adherents to Mignet’s “formula” of tandem wings and simplified flying controls continue to produce variants on the formula. One of the most interesting is the Pouchel, an ultralight model popular in France with over 120 plans sets sold to members of APEV (Association pour la Promotion des Echelles Volantes – Association for the Promotion of Flying Ladders), which used a commonly available aluminum ladder as its basic fuselage structure. Because of the plane’s popularity and a fear of liability suits that might ensue, the ladder manufacturer asked the organization to forego using …

Ultra in the Key of E

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Protoplane, the French manufacturer of the Ultra ultralight two-seater, has big plans for increasing the efficiency of an already efficient aircraft. Their petrol-powered, 450 kilogram (990 pound) all-up weight monoplane can cruise, according to the company, at 220 kilometers per hour (137 miles per hour) on only 12 liters (a little more than 3 U. S. gallons) per hour, achieving 43 miles per gallon.  At slower speeds, the plane can stay aloft for nine hours on its 90 liters of fuel. Protoplane hopes to market the first electric two-seater in 2010, basing the design on improvements in “weight, aerodynamic efficiency, batteries, motors and propellers.” Their web site sets forth Protoplane’s objective. “Making an electric aircraft is very difficult, because one pound …

Eco-Marathon an Echo of the Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Think of the Green Flight Challenge flown on a much smaller course, but allowing hydrogen fuel cell powered balloons to compete against liquified natural gas powered ultralight aircraft, or solar-powered autogyros.  You might get a small idea of the creativity and innovation that sponsors hope to unleash in an upcoming event. In the town of Vichy, France, at the Vichy-Charmiel airfield, on July 9-11, the Eco Marathon ULM (Ultra Light Machines) will be held to test the limits of how little energy can be used to fly an aerial craft around a closed-circuit course three times. The rules are simple. The craft using the least energy wins – like the CAFE Foundation’s 2011 Green Flight Challenge, and inspired by the …

An Understandable Passion

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 1 Comment

IPSA, the Institut Polytechnique des Sciences Advancees, headquartered in Paris and Toulouse, France, has a “Green” program associated with its aeronautical engineering program. Its students have designed Buselec 2, a 14.6 meter (47 feet) span, two-seater, electric-powered airplane, which will be constructed with assistance from Daniel Dalby, the originator of the Pouchelec, an electric-powered outgrowth of the Mignet tandem-wing ultralight, and Bela Nogrady, director of the Protoplane company. (More about both of these gentlemen and their creations in near-future posts.) Motor choices have not been made at this point, but Michael Dalby, head of the Mecadalby company, explains that, “One of our partners is working on a [brushless motor] especially planned for aviation.” This motor will produce at least 20 …

The Poop on the Puffin

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Under normal circumstances, this editor would never resort to scatological titles, but Mark Moore, the NASA aerospace engineer behind this fantastic flying creation calls his electric craft, “Puffin” because, according to Moore, the bird after which it is named, “Hides its poop, and we’re environmentally friendly because we essentially have no emissions.” Like the Puffin, this craft looks a bit chubby and incapable of flight on the ground, but folds its legs on liftoff, and becomes a streamlined bullet. Moore, who spoke at last year’s Third Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, and will return for this year’s CAFE Foundation gathering at NASA Ames Research Center in April, unveiled this concept at this year’s American Helicopter Society meeting in San Francisco. Moore …