HopFlyt Channels the Custer Channel Wing

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

HopFlyt is an enthusiastic young organization devoted to renewing the Custer Channel Wing, a lost remnant of attempts to create extremely short takeoff and landing (STOL) airplanes starting over 70 years ago.  Their web site explains their primary goal, which includes adding electrically-powered vertical takeoffs and landings to the channel wing’s repertoire. “HopFlyt is an aviation technology startup company [whose] main priority is to develop technology and ultimately build a sustainable electric Vertical Takeoff & Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. The goal of this aircraft is to help you beat the jam of traffic and reduce pollution in major urban centers around the world. We want to change your 2 hours of traffic into a short 20 minutes of flying.” Willard Custer’s …

Sun Flyer’s Two and Four Seat Electric Aircraft

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

George Bye has spent the last decade developing a viable two-seat training aircraft that would be electrically powered.  His efforts included a Cessna 172 that took wing on battery power, and have evolved to the current product, a sleek two-seater that has 105 deposits to buy worldwide. At AirVenture 2017, George displayed the Sun Flyer 2 and announced plans to introduce a four-seater, the Sun Flyer 4.  With ground tests complete on the aircraft and its 45-pound Emrax motor, George envisions flight tests coming this fall for the 2.  Even given successful flight tests, certification may take two to three years.  George has been working with the FAA to enable certification under Part 23 rules, and has made great headway …

A123/Solid Power Partnership – A Safe Bet?

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A123 Systems has worked with buffering chemistries to reduce the volatility of lithium batteries for the last decade.  Solid Power Inc. has taken a set of interesting new technologies to make batteries more energy dense and safer.   The two companies are combining efforts to make a more powerful, less-volatile battery, according to recent press releases. A123 produces nanophosphate (lithium iron phosphate – LiFePO4) and ultraphosphate batteries.  Their nanophosphate batteries are used in Porsche’s 919 hybrid, a LeMans Prototype (LMP1) endurance racer that was outright winner of the event this year.  They also power Eva Hakansson’s Killajoule and Bill Dube’s Killacycle – both record-holding electric motorcycles.  Their Ultraphosphate line is designed to work at low voltages and low temperatures, including 48-Volt …

SmartFlyer Challenge: Electric Airplanes Fill Swiss Skies

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

There are few times one will see more than one electric airplane at the same place – outside of perhaps, Friedrichshafen’s e-Flight Expo every year.  But to see them flying at the same field on the same day is an even grander delight.  That happened September 9 and 10 at Grenchen, Switzerland.  Grenchen hosted the world’s first all-electric fly-in – the SmartFlyer Challenge.  It drew an appreciable number of electric aircraft of all sizes and types despite the clouds and rain that kept some from scaling the mountains. An Electric Three-Plane Formation Flight The Siemens-powered Magnus e-Fusion from the Czech Republic, the electric Phoenix motorglider, and Stuttgart University’s e-Genius all flew formation with a Piper L-4, a World War Two …

Equator P2 Makes First Taxi Test

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Designing and building your own airplane is a chore most people will never accomplish.  It’s harder than it looks.  All the people your editor knows who have accomplished this, even “just” the building part, talk about the 90-percent rule: 90-percent done – 90-percent to go. Getting the Nose Gear to Steer Tomas Brodreskift of Equator Aircraft is probably at the 95-percent stage of aircraft completion on his hybrid P2 amphibian, but he and his team still need to drill new holes, make new fittings, laminate some additional pieces and finally get a nose-gear steering system in place.  Since his airplane doesn’t have a set of rudder pedals, steering is controlled by pushing on switches on an orange handgrip in the …

Cheaper Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Hydrogen would be a wonderful fuel if it were easy to get and easy to use.  It makes up 90 percent of all atoms in the universe, equal to about 75 percent of all the mass.  Hydrogen has been expensive to obtain because quite often its extraction from other matter entails using expensive catalysts such as platinum. Russia and America Team Up to Get Cheap Hydrogen Scientists from the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, working with researchers at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and in Jinan, China combined efforts to produce hydrogen using sunlight and photosensitive lipids.  We associate lipids with getting blood drawn at the clinic, and waiting patiently to see how our cholesterol and triglycerides …

Smart Fabrics Generate Energy Several Ways

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

We see a great deal about wearable energy-generating fabrics, garments that will help keep the wearer warm, or cool, or visible because of built-in piezo-electric generators in the makeup of the fabric.  Several researchers are taking this to the next level, creating new warps and woofs of materials that will create energy from a greater range of energy inputs. Elias Siores and the University of Bolton In 2011, Professor Elias Siores and associates at the University of Bolton in the UK created a flexible fiber that could harvest energy from movement and light.  Siores said it was flexible enough to be woven into “a sail, window curtain or tent and generate power”.  The material was recognized as a major innovation …

Elytron Changes Names, Forms, Becomes Converticopter

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Oliver Garrow has been pursuing the dream of vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) flight for a decade, starting long before it became the currently fashionable ideal for “flying car” enthusiasts.  He sold a little over 1,000 simulation packages to enthusiasts, who could “fly” variants of the Verticopter™ ranging from three to 65 feet in span.  At the same time in 2010, Garrow was testing large radio-controlled models of the concept at NASA Ames, Moffett Field, California. The craft’s configuration changed considerably as Oliver refined his concept, with a full-scale prototype displayed at the HAI (Helicopter Association International) Helicopter Expo in Orlando, Florida in 2015.  The company and vehicle names changed to VTOL Aerospace and Converticopter™. Later, Garrow’s team tested the …

Electric Propulsion for Big Birds

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Graham Warwick reports in the August 25 Aviation Week that NASA is investigating the creation of megawatt-scale electric propulsion systems for airliners.  These would be much more powerful than those in cars or even semi-trucks, and far lighter than equivalent units in ships. NASA’s research involves partnering with the University of Illinois, Ohio State University, General Electric, and Boeing.  NASA Glenn Research Center is working on its own self-cooled, superconducting wound field synchronous motor as part of the overall effort. NASA’s focus, according to the article, “is on electric machines that can be used as generators (sources) and motors (loads) and power electronics that convert AC to DC (rectifiers) and DC to AC (inverters).”  Research includes wiring systems that can distribute …

Recharging Technique Makes Zinc-Air Batteries a Viable Alternative

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries face several problems: they are not making great leaps forward that we hope for, they occasionally burst into flame, and they weigh too much to be all that practical in a pure-electric airplane.  Researchers peer over the alternatives, magnesium, manganese, aluminum, and now, after several false starts in recent years, zinc. University of Sydney scientists claim to have found a three-stage method of charging zinc-air cells that promises greater energy density and longevity.  One selling point – the relative abundance and low cost of zinc, such cells are cheaper to produce than lithium equivalents.  They theoretically can store up to five times more energy than lithium-ion cells, are less prone to burst into flame, and are …