Solid Power Batteries – Headed for Production?

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

So often, promising developments in batteries, solar cells, and electric vehicles seem stuck in the “five years from now” limbo.  Perhaps there may be hope that a current, real-time development is before us.  MSNBC reports Solid Power has a pilot production line for its solid-state batteries up and running – as of three days ago. Forgive the sound track, which can be turned down or off.  The information is worthwhile, however. Solid Power, a 2012 outgrowth of research performed at the University of Colorado Boulder, now holds down 21,000 square feet at the Colorado Tech Center.  Their web site expresses some of the frustration many of who have been waiting through the last decade feel about the near-static trend in …

Electric Flight for the Masses

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Paracas, Peru lies on the South American country’s Pacific coast, halfway between Ecuador and Colombia to the north and Chile to the south.  There, Alex Ferrer has built a Super Goat ultralight glider and powered it with a Chinese motor, controller and batteries for electric flight.  Since he displays in-flight data on his videos, one can get an appreciation of the small amount of energy required to keep a very light machine like the Mike Sandlin craft in the air. Sandlin makes plans for his gliders available for free on line.  Excellent drawings with high-grade details, they enable a committed craftsman the ability to use simple hand tools to make a glider that one can carry atop a compact car …

Tehachapi Soars with New ideas – Day 2

Dean Sigler Biomimicry, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The annual Experimental Soaring Association Western Workshop spills over the Labor Day weekend, starting with a welcome barbecue/potluck Friday evening and an official kickoff on Saturday.  Sunday features more technical presentations and this year – an organization business meeting and a closing talk about moon shots. Pelicans, Albatross and Perpetual Flight Phillip Barnes, an accomplished aerodynamicist, photographer and expert on soaring birds, links all his interests and skills in his web site, How Flies the Albatross. This year, he brought his knowledge to bear on a design for a flying machine that would pull energy from the air it flies through to power its electric motors – Coulomb Keeper. He described the design process behind it in a talk titled, …

Tehachapi Soars with New ideas

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Every year, Labor Day weekend brings sailplane enthusiasts to Jeff Byard’s hangar on Mountain Valley Airport above Tehachapi, California.  It’s a friendly get-together that always has challenges and surprises for the participants. History on the Field This year, attendees were treated to an opening talk by Jeff Byard titled “Soaring, Something for Everybody.”  It lived up to its name, with a review of sailplanes of all types, with many examples right in the presentation hangar. For history buffs, jeff’s hangar, and Doug Fronius’ a few doors away, offer a glimpse of every type of hand-made soaring machine, including Doug’s recreation of Waldo Waterman’s 1911 hang glider, something which has been flown over the California coast. Jeff’s collection includes a Slingsby …

The Prieto Battery Receives Affirmation

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Dr. Amy Prieto created her namesake battery a decade ago, and has been seeking funding and other support for its development ever since.  It gained such funding from Stanley Ventures in 2016.    Prieto Battery, as reported by GreenCarCongress.com then, is, “A company commercializing a 3D Lithium-ion battery technology (earlier post), announced a strategic investment from Stanley Ventures, the venture arm of Stanley Black & Decker, a world-leading provider of tools and storage, commercial electronic security and engineered fastening systems.” Possibly more important that money, Dr. Prieto’s battery recently received third-party validation of its claimed safety and performance attributes from Energy Assurance, LLC.  GreenCarCongress reports, “Specifically, Prieto had a group of fully assembled batteries containing their proprietary 3D anode tested against an …

The I.D.E.A.L. Becomes Real with JabirWatt

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

Dr. David Ullman taught mechanical engineering and project management for over three decades, and his books on the mechanical design process are consistently sought after.  His current project, JabirWatt, is hangared at his home in Independence, Oregon, and combines the internal combustion propulsion of its Jabiru engine with the lift-enhancing addition of four electric ducted fan motors on the wings.  A project partner, Vince Homer, lives nearby on the airport.  Both have hangars filled with things of genius, including the well-instrumented wind tunnel on which David tests his ideas (or I.D.E.A.L – Integrated Distributed Electric-Augmented Lift). Slightly different from the approach promised in his presentation at last year’s Sustainable Aviation Symposium, the modified Jabiru sacrifices its rear seat for a …

Clean Hydrogen from Dirty Sources

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Proton Technologies of Calgary, Canada has a startling approach to obtaining clean hydrogen – extraction from some of the dirtiest sources on earth.  Considering the company plans to pull hydrogen from fairly filthy tar sands, their Hygenic Earth Energy almost seems like a misnomer. Tar sands oil extraction has been enormously controversial, with issues including arboreal forest destruction, native tribal displacement, and air and water pollution. Proton hopes to ameliorate these problems in Alberta and elsewhere with adherence to this mission statement: “To rapidly transform energy systems worldwide—profitably and sustainably—might sound like a dream.  However it is entirely reasonable, perhaps inevitable, if you accept… “Four Key Premises: “1. Hydrogen is the foundation to a sustainable energy future “2. The high cost and …

ZeroAvia Counts on Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Tucked away in the quiet little airport at Hollister, California, ZeroAvia has stealthily been developing a hydrogen-powered Piper Malibu, and flying it for the last six months.  It sounds like a regular aircraft taking off and passing overhead, even with its two 130 kilowatt (174.26 horsepower) electric motors. ZeroAvia claims 275 kW (369 hp) for the pair.  From the videos, propeller noise seems to be much the same as a conventional, internal-combustion powered Malibu, but lacks the added noise of the engine.  Piper M-series aircraft are normally powered by a Teledyne Continental Motors TSIO-520BE engine rated at 310 hp (230 kW). Valery Miftakhov, ZeroAvia’s founder and CEO announced, “Right now we have an aircraft that’s six seats and 2 tons …

Berkeley Achieves New Highs in Thermophotovoltaic Efficiency

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Researchers at University of California at Berkeley announced a record in thermophotovoltaic efficiency, now at 29 percent, but with a few tweaks, soon to be at 50 percent.  This is great news for small drones, which could stay up for days, but possibly not a be-all, end-all for larger, more conventional electric aircraft.  Let’s examine the potential and the pitfalls involved. The researchers’ “groundbreaking physical insight” and “novel design” applies thermophotovoltaic principles that are “an ultralight alternative power source.”  Eli Yablonovitch, professor of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS), wrote in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, ““Thermophotovoltaics are compact and extremely efficient for a wide range of applications, from those that require as …

Pragma Triples Kilometers on Hydrogen Fuel-Cell Bikes

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Six years ago, we ran a story on hydrogen fuel-cell powered bikes that could travel limited distances, and used canisters of fresh hydrogen to quickly replenish the bike’s energy.   Pragma Industries has introduced a much-improved version of that bike, with range up to 150 kilometers (93 miles).  A pedelec (the motor kicks in when the cyclist pedals), the bike has a unique look and a compact propulsion system.   The system consists of a Brose 36 Volt motor, a 150 Watt PEM (Proton Exchange Membrane) fuel cell, and 150 Watt-hours of lithium-ion batteries in the bike’s down tube.  Pragma has a large amount of material on its technologies, including a helpful explanation of fuel cells and their operation, and a …