Solar Flight at Night

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The Solar Impulse prototype, HB-SIA, will be making its first night flights within the next month, according to a June 15, 2010 press release from the project team. With eight successful flights to its credit, the airplane will attempt two critical missions according to the release: “the first night flight ever by a solar aircraft “the first ever complete cycle flight to validate the possibility of long-duration flights without any fuel” “’To fly day and night with a solar aircraft is a human and technological challenge that has never been met so far, and an essential stage of the project’, says André Borschberg, CEO and co-founder of Solar Impulse. ‘Demonstrating that we can fly a whole day and night will …

Whither Are We Drifting?

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Oxford University graduate students have been working on a yokeless and segmented armature (YASA) motor for the last several years.  The unique construction simplifies the motor and provides a lightweight (11 kilogram – 23.2 pound) unit that, as shown, puts out 40 kilowatts (53.6 horsepower).  Computer simulations show the motor could put out up to 150 horsepower, over six horsepower per pound, although the current version is being held to no more than 75 kW. Originally intended for the Morgan Lifecar, a hydrogen fuel cell powered retro-styled disguise for futuristic high technology, a pair have been mounted to drive the rear wheels of a Westfield Lotus 7 replica.  This extremely light sports car is also a retro ride, having been featured as …

MotoCzysz Takes Isle of Man in Style

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MotoCzysz, an Oregon-based builder of high-end, high performance motorcycles, won the second Isle of Man electric Tourist Trophy (TTZero – for zero emissions) race today, June 11. The MotoCzysz E1PC eclipsed last year’s overall speed for that event’s winning Agni bike of Cedric Lynch, 87.434 mph, and raised that over 10 percent, to 96.820 mph. It came close to running a 100 mph lap of the island, according to Gizmag, but Mark Miller, the Californian riding for the team, held it back to ensure a finish and a win. It did go through the traps at one point at over 135 mph. Even the Agni Z1 ridden by Rod Barber, was faster than last year, finishing second at an average speed of 89.290 …

A Swiss Swift

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Feedback, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Editor’s note: Livio Mengotti sent this comment regarding Dr. Steve Morris’s Swift’s first  flights in California, under the pilotage of Brian Porter.  (See “A Manned Swift Takes Flight,” March 1, 2010.) The videos are self-explanatory and filled with technical detail. Based on the videos, Switzerland is filled with open fields and glorious vistas awaiting aerial exploitation. Compare Livio’s undercarriage and pilot accommodations with those of Morris’s craft and the pod on Manfred Ruhmer’s Swift conversion.  Note, also, that the motor is mounted on the front of the wing, instead of behind it, as on the other two examples.  Congratulations for your performance! I built an electric Swift too. I made two flights on April 2010. I can mount and remove …

A World Distance Record Without Recharging?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

The headline reads, “EV breaks record with 1,003-km run,” but that might be a little misleading. The Kyodo News reported the following about an astonishing run made with a Daihatsu electric vehicle. “A Tokyo civic group said Sunday it managed to get an electric car to run 1,003.184 km (about 622 miles) without a recharge, shattering its own world record from last year.” “The Japan Electric Vehicle Club said it will ask Guinness World Records to officially recognize the journey, which was completed at a racing course in Shimotsuma, Ibaraki Prefecture, as the world’s longest. The vehicle, powered by Sanyo Electric Co.’s lithium-ion battery system, ran for about 27 1/2 hours until around 2:30 p.m. Sunday (actually May 22 to 23, …

Spider Webs and Slime Mold – Nature’s Networking Genius

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

As aircraft become more electrified and integrated in their operations, even light airplanes are turning to networking system such as ARINC AFDX and CANBUS to link their different operational elements (See “An LSA With the Electric Heart of an Airliner, May 24, 2010).  The ability to sustain failure or damage in any one element without disrupting safe operation of other subsystems or the aircraft itself becomes a primary consideration. During the Electric Aircraft Symposium’s Friday evening dinner sessions, Dr. Svetlana Poroseva of Florida State University’s Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) presented a four-minute rundown on her efforts to find a network topology that provides the necessary reliability and robustness to allow power systems or naval vessels in combat, for …

Solar Impulse Soars on Sunlight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Andre Borschberg, CEO of the Solar Impulse Project, had this to say after he landed following the seventh flight of the Airbus-sized solar craft – but the first using its solar panels for power. “It was like a first encounter with the sun. After I had turned on the solar panel I could see the energy reserves increasing although the engines were continuously consuming power. Never before in my 40 years as a pilot have I experienced anything like this.” Martin Reichlin reported on the excitement of going solar on May 28’s second flight.  “A few minutes ago we could follow by radio how André switched on the four sectors of the round about 200 square meters of solar panels …

Twice Around London – Without Recharging

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On May 27, Imperial College students driving their electric race car around the M25 orbital road that cirles London looked more like ninja thieves (because of headgear that protected them from early morning breezes) headed toward a convenience store than serious test drivers, but their mission was far more benign than their appearance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MkZlb29ge8 Their mount, a white and green two-seater that looks more destined for LeMans fame than for ecological breakthroughs, was the RGE (Racing Green Endurance) based on a Radical Sportscars SR8 chassis. Its power comes from two Evo-Electric motors each with a motor controller, propelled by a Thunder Sky 56 kWh battery pack and monitored by a National Instruments CompactRio unit which combines management of the motor control …

The Electric-Powered Aircraft, A Sequel

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 1 Comment

David Ullman, a professor at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon, author,  and owner of his own consulting firm, Robust Decisions, has published part two of his article, “The Electric Powered Aircraft,” that first appeared in Kitplanes’ October 2009 issue (see our October 18, 2009 entry, “Hear the Hum?  Kitplanes Does”) .  You won’t have to rush to the nearest bookstore for the sequel, since this is online in the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Experimenter.  A great deal of the Experimenter is fired up with speculation and skepticism about electric aircraft and their feasibility in the current issue, including an editorial by Patrick Panzera, long-time engine guru and editor of the e-zine.  A great many of the readers’ comments have a “not ready for …

An LSA With the Electric Heart of an Airliner

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC 9 Comments

Stephan Boutenko, Alternair President and founder, seeks a Light Sport Aircraft alternative, an airplane looking like an LSA, but loaded with features that will allow it to keep pace with the rapidly changing options coming to electric flight. Inspired by Yuneec’s E-430 but disappointed by its slow cruising speed, Boutenko was determined to create something more in line with LSA performance criteria. He also wanted to take advantage of the knowledge he had gained from years of experience with heavier aviation to create an integrated system that would allow flexibility and expandability in the development of his airplane. Unabashedly conventional in appearance, the low-wing, tricycle geared monoplane is conceived to make a pilot transitioning from an internal combustion powered machine …