Doing More with Less – BLI on a Big Scale

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

Hybrid and electric cars sell because they lower operating costs for the owner.  Designers and manufacturers sort out ways to increase efficiency, including streamlining, using low-rolling-resistance tires, and making structures lighter.  An added technology, boundary layer ingestion (BLI) may add to aircraft efficiency. NASA and industry leaders are working on equivalent solutions for aircraft, and airplanes will end up as different from today’s designs as Toyota Priuses and BMW i3s are from Ford Falcons or Chevrolet Corvettes.  NASA proclaims, “An aviation renaissance, one focused on energy efficiency and economic impact, is on the horizon, and it’s changing how engineers look at aircraft power and design.” Jim Heidmann, a manager of NASA’s Advanced Air Transport Technology Project (AATT), says, “I feel we …

Three Solar-Powered Cars Show a Possible Tech Path for Airplanes

Dean Sigler Batteries, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

In the next decade, your new car may not only be electric or hybrid, but solar powered.  A speaker from an Italian auto firm told a symposium your editor attended five years ago that solar roofs on cars could provide up to 30 free kilometers for an electric car each day.  That 18 miles would be a gift indeed, but at least three innovators are working toward making that an underachievement. Sono Motors and their Sion Sono Motors, headquartered in Munich, Germany, used crowdfunding to build their prototype and publicize their five-seat, partially solar powered vehicle – Sion.  Sion comprises several surprising elements, including polycarbonate shielded solar cells integrated into the simple, wedge-shaped body design, an interior air-cleaning system based …

109.5 minutes of Mad Creativity – Ending with an Electric Biplane

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

Peter Sripol is part of FliteTest, a group that sells electric model aircraft and components and produces some wild and wooly YouTube videos of their exploits.  The group’s products are mostly budget items, with simple aircraft quickly constructed the norm.  One example, the Simple Solar radio-controlled plane, can be built for under $60, and flies on two coreless motors.  Flite Test has quick build kits and FPV (First Person View) radio systems that allow a pilot to view, through an on-board camera, what a (really tiny) person on board the model would see.  This level of miniaturization and commodity-level pricing allows FliteTest to provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) kits to schools at the grade and high-school levels. MTV …

UAVs Push Endurance Limits

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Three unpiloted aerial vehicles of wildly different configurations recently set endurance marks, each a “personal best,” with some achieving world records.  The varying designs show what can be achieved by careful aerodynamic design and efficient powerplants. Aerovel Flexrotor Sets VTOL Endurance Mark Not just a fair weather UAV, Aerovel’s unmanned Flexrotor, named for the sea nymph Actaea, “lifted off into a grey and rainy morning with 7.5 kilograms (16.5 pounds) of fuel onboard”.  According to the company, “It transitioned from hover to wing-borne flight, and soldiered on through a showery day, a blustery night, and then another day in the breezy and unsettled air behind a cold front. As dusk fell it transitioned back to hover, and dropped gently down onto …

Hoversurf and OTSAW Patrol the Skies of Dubai

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

Hoversurf’s recent announcement of its use by Dubai police to patrol the streets and skies of the capital city brings forth several questions.  With Dubai and other Emirates readily encouraging new modes of transport, including sky taxis and possibly Hyperloop trains, the country seems set to lead a transportation revolution in the 21st century. Already, style leaders and plutocrats crowd the streets with Lamborghinis and Bugattis: the police force fielding equally formidable patrol vehicles to control over-eager drivers.  Police inventories include a Brabus-tuned 690 horsepower Mercedes Geländewagen capable of off-road desert sorties, and at least one $1.6 million Bugatti Veyron for on-road speeders, along with a Porsche 918 and various Aston Martins.  Several other supercars ensure a fairly even pursuit …

Faradair BEHA, an Electric Triplane for the Future

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Triplanes were popular in World War One because they allowed great maneuverability for dog-fighting, a supreme survival necessity.  Their success in designs by Fokker and Sopwith, among others, gave them a certain panache.  Now, a Bristol, England-based company hopes to revive the triplane as a commuter aircraft ready to fly from regional airports. Faradair®, named after English physicist Michael Faraday*, hopes to craft an airplane that will allow flight from smaller regional airports and compete with even well-established rail service.  Their craft, BEHA – Bio-Electric Hybrid Aircraft, will fly six to eight lucky passengers on a quiet inter-city ride powered by a 300-horsepower internal combustion engine and two electric motors in a parallel-hybrid arrangement. Neil Cloughley, Managing Director and Founder …

Better Battery Materials – Asphalt?

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

Asphalt, Graphene, and a Lithium Coating Mike Williams, reporting for Rice University in Houston, Texas, writes, “A touch of asphalt may be the secret to high-capacity lithium metal batteries that charge 10 to 20 times faster than commercial lithium-ion batteries, according to Rice University scientists.” We’ve written about James Tour and his laboratory before.  He and his students come up with a plethora of new energy ideas and are able to demonstrate some exciting outcomes.  His latest effort mixes asphalt with conductive graphene nanoribbons, and then electrochemically coats the composite with lithium metal to form a battery anode. The anode, when combined with a sulfurized-carbon cathode, was used in full batteries for testing.  The results seem a bit incredible, with …

Jeff Engler’s Wright Aero Leaps Into Green Flight

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Partnering with easyJet, a UK-based budget airline, to build an electric airliner capable of carrying 150 passengers on sub-two-hour flights, Wright Aero will substitute electrons for liquid fuel on one-fifth of EasyJet’s trips.  Finding a ready collaborator in easyJet’s Carolyn McCall, Engler has a partner who is already making inroads into making jet flight cleaner.  “’We can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it. It is now more a matter of when not if a short haul electric plane will fly,’ said EasyJet CEO McCall,” in an interview with The Guardian. Engler added, in his latest Wright Weport: “First, the context is on Wednesday easyJet announced a partnership with us during their Innovation …

Boeing Announces Zunum Progress, Acquisition of Aurora Flight Sciences

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Boeing made two announcements this week that show the maker of large aircraft willing to investigate niche markets at smaller scales and with more personal service for flyers.  Both involve electric power and the potential for automated flight. Zunum To Fly by 2020, In Service by 2022 Zunum Aero, the Boeing- and Jet Blue-backed regional airliner startup, will begin development of a 10-to-12 passenger airplane, hybrid powered with large electric ducted fans at the rear of the fuselage.  Having flown on earlier examples of 10-passenger “airliners,” your editor welcomes this smaller package.  Ford Trimotors and DeHavilland Dragons carried passengers in the 1930s, with simple accommodations and window seats for all.  The single-aisle made boarding and deplaning easy and quick, and …

David Ullman: Flying on Multiple Tiny Motors

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

David Ullman, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, predicted electric flight’s future in articles in 2009* and 2010**.  His predictions have come (mostly) true and David is working to fulfill the rest.  His background in mechanical and aeronautical engineering provides credibility for his prognostications, and he’s taking practical steps to take electric aviation to a next, very creative level. While Uber’s Elevate Summit in Dallas earlier this year focused on big-money players in the vertical aviation world, David and co-creator Vincent H. Homer promoted their paper, “The IDEAL for Near-VTOL Aircraft.”  IDEAL represents “Integrated Distributed Electric – Augmented Lift” flight, using “thrust from distributed electric propulsion to improve the lift and drag performance of the aircraft during takeoff, cruise …