Structural Battery Doubles Flight Time

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

Structural batteries, structures which are also their own energy storage devices, are being looked at with increasing frequency.  Your editor has long been a proponent of integrating aircraft structures and the means of generating, storing and releasing energy – something he calls “the Grand Unified Airplane.”  Joe Faust, a hang glider pioneer and designer of energy-gathering kites, put the idea of including batteries in an airplane’s structure into your editor’s mind.  This video from the 1970’s shows Joe was not only athletic and adventurous – he was clean.  His Wikipedia page is even more fascinating. 40 Years Later at Case Western Following Joe Faust’s lead, Case Western professor Vikas Prakash has demonstrated the potential or structural energy storage at model …

Mary Grady, A Great Aviation Journalist

Dean Sigler Announcements Leave a Comment

I met Mary Grady at the 2011 Sun ‘n Fun Flyin in Lakeland, Florida.  After that, she and I swapped tips and leads for articles.  Her work at AVweb and for Belvoir Publications was professional and polished – always.  I’m using AVweb’s tribute to her, especially since it shows her many facets.  She will be missed. Dean Sigler Mary Grady, one of AVweb’s longest-serving, most dedicated and respected contributing editors, died at her home in Warwick, Rhode Island, on March 12 after a long illness. Mary was one of the founding members of the internet experiment that became AVweb and continued as a key staff writer until her health challenges prompted a leave of absence earlier this year. She worked for AVweb for 20 years and …

Silicone Wrinkles Can Be Beautiful

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

 Hanqing Jiang, a professor in ASU’s School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, has come up with a clever and inexpensive way to fight dendrites in lithium batteries.  Since these spiky little outbreaks can lead to battery fires, his team’s findings might lead to safer batteries.  The approach involves silicone. Many of us put up a (usually futile) fight against wrinkles, our youth culture spending fortunes to avoid the inevitable.  Scientists at Arizona State University, however, are encouraging wrinkles in their lithium-metal batteries, and pouring cheap silicone goo over their anodes to discourage dendrites from popping up. This novel approach to crafting lithium metal anodes for batteries is something Arizona State University scientists are working on, with surprising results.  …

Mixing It Up With MXene

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

Over the years reporting on battery developments, we’ve seen paper batteries, spray-on batteries, structural batteries and many types of material mixes.  Drexel University has tossed all the above intone big hopper and come up with MXene, a potentially dynamic way of making batteries, supercapacitors, antennas, and structural elements that can be conductors, semiconductors, and insulators, among myriad applications. Going Through a Phase MXenes are formed from layered MAX phases, defined by Drexel as forming, “A large family of ternary(composed of three) carbides with the general formula Mn+1AXn, where n = 1–3, M is an early transition metal, A is an A-group element (mostly IIIA and IVA), and X is C and/or N:”  That level of chemistry is two quantum leaps above your editor’s pay grade, so you’ll have …

Goodyear Aero Wheel Sparks Controversy

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

Goodyear Creates a Flying Tire Displayed this week at the Geneva Auto Show, Goodyear’s new AERO wheel is not just rolling stock, but a possible aeronautical device that could propel a “flying car” skyward.  Not only could it roll along the freeway, it could navigate the vehicle and choose whether to be in highway or aerial mode.  These smart tires could have some problems, though, that could negate their aerial potential, according to some critics. Goodyear’s press release extols the possible virtues of the forward-thinking product: “GENEVA, March 5, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Goodyear AERO concept is a two-in-one tire designed for the autonomous, flying cars of the future. This concept would work both as a tire for driving on the road …

Metro Hop Leaps From Tall Buildings

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

Metro Hop™ is an electric, conventional fixed wing, all-weather aircraft designed to operate within the urban air mobility environment, according to their web site. Different Design Philosophies Metro Hop is a unique view from the leaders of the CAFE Foundation, which is often allied with the Vertical Flight Society.  Metro Hop’s fixed-wing approach seems to fly in the face of the team’s normal affiliations. The Sustainable Aviation Foundation was established as a proponent of fixed-wing design by President Brien Seeley, and promotes “pocket airparks,” small urban and suburban airports that would distribute availability of short-range aircraft within walking or cycling distance for many urban dwellers.  CAFE would distribute spaces similar to heliports on rooftops or on specialized buildings such as …

Is Ionic Propulsion Plausible?

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

Ethan Krauss responds to MIT’s Ionic Flyer Coverage There seems to be great interest in ionic propulsion.  After we published “MIT’s Ionic Flyer – Solid State All the Way,” our editorial offices (otherwise known as your editor’s kitchen) received a comment from Ethan Krauss, who corrected the historical record.  He explains, “MIT was NOT “the first ion propelled aircraft of any kind to carry their power supply, as their video and paper say.  They don’t use less voltage, they are not more efficient, they are not the largest. Size was not the limit in the past.” Click on image to see video of MIT’s first flights. “They are the second in the world to be able to claim that they …

Purdue Flow Battery: Safer, Less Expensive

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Promising enough to catch NBC’s attention, new flow battery technology from Purdue University promises quick refueling and up to 3,000 miles range in the electric car of the future.  If volumetric and gravimetric factors can be brought into line, this could be a useful energy storage medium for future aircraft. John Cushman, Purdue University distinguished professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences and a professor of mathematics and partner Eric Nauman, professor in mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, and in basic medical sciences, co-founded IFBattery Inc.  The pair developed a “safe and affordable” patented technology that requires replacing fluids in their battery every 300 miles, and then swapping the anode material every 3,000 miles “taking less time than is needed to do and oil change” and costing about $65.  …

Astigan HALE Flies British Skies

Dean Sigler Batteries, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Ordnance Survey Established in 2014 by Ordnance Survey and private investors to develop and commercialize the UK’s first commercial sub-orbital Earth Observation High-Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS), Astigan is both the aircraft company and product of that partnership with OS. Ordnance Survey produces maps for private, government and business users, including pre-printed print maps and custom charts downloadable to PCs or mobile devices.  These can be as elaborate as items containing “fly-throughs” of requested routes for hiking, biking, driving or even flying trips.  3D modeling enables users to visualize the terrain and essential elements before committing to a flight. Astigan HALE To enable accurate mapping and application development, the team has created a 38-meter (124.7 feet) wingspan, twin-motor high-altitude, very light …

Polyplus and SK Team on Glass-Encapsulated Batteries

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Polyplus, a Berkeley, California-based battery developer, has teamed with SK, Korea’s” first and largest energy and chemical company,“ to produce and test prototype cells to demonstrate increased volumetric and gravimetric energy density and cycle life relative to existing Li-ion cells.”  Just reported,  “The PolyPlus lithium-water battery has achieved the highest recorded energy density of 1,300 Watt-hours/kilogram, or an almost 10x improvement* over current lithium-ion batteries. Polyplus projects the energy density for commercial lithium-air batteries to be 1000 watt-hours per kilogram.”   As with many recent partnerships, the alliance between Polyplus and SK provides “muscle” for the smaller partner.  Polyplus, with 18 bay area employees, will benefit from the far more sizable SK’s financial and managerial expertise.  Between the two firms Polyplus’ 135 …