Lowered Resistance, Greater Spontaneity with Solid-State Batteries

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Paradoxically, almost every battery breakthrough seems to have an accompanying problem, and battery developers end up sometimes ditching the positive because of an overriding negative.  Solid-state batteries promise some gains without compromise, though. Conventional lithium-ion batteries have possibly reached the limit of their capacity, some scientists fear, and still remain prone to issues like thermal runaway.  Developers have looked at solid-state battery designs in which even the electrolyte is solid and not prone to bursting into flame.  These batteries promise to have higher energy densities and longer lives, but high resistance at the electrolyte-electrode interface tends to interfere with charging and discharging speeds. Two groups of researchers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology have been taking different approaches to creating …

Coots and e-Gulls at Oshkosh

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

Lead image shows Mark Beierle in the Soaring Gull of his design with which he accompanied Richard Steeves to Oshkosh. As many readers know, Richard Steeves, a physician and teacher at the University of Wisconsin – Madison is also a builder and long-time advocate for an amphibious aircraft called the Coot.  He publishes the Coot Builders Newsletter and stages a recurring AirVenture event, a yearly get-together of fellow Coot builders.  Recently, he got into electric aviation and has built and flies Bravo, an e-Gull designed by Mark Beierle.  Richard’s newsletter now features articles about amphibians and electric flight. Mark showed up at Richard’s hangar at the Sauk Prairie Airport, a lovely stretch of green bordered by hangars and bisected by …

Flow Batteries Aging Well

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

As previously noted in the blog, the Tissandier Brothers flew their Siemens-powered electric airship in 1883 using a flow battery of their own design for energy storage.  This technology gets a lot of attention for grid-based energy storage, but might have use in more mobile applications.  Nano Flow Cell Technologies in Switzerland, for instance, used different salt waters to power their Quant and Quantino automobiles. Howard Handelman, a regular reader of the blog, shared the following two researches into modernizing flow cells.  Stanford and Harvard researchers both cooked up different ingredients than one would normally find in a flow battery.  Both groups achieved better than average performance and longevity. Stanford’s Liquid Metal Approach Stanford’s battery uses liquid metal that more …

John Goodenough’s Counterintuitive Battery

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

A Long and Productive Life On his 96th birthday today, John Goodenough and his research team’s latest findings are the subject of much speculation.  He, fellow scientist Maria Braga, and his research team have created a battery claimed to be three times as energy dense as existing lithium-ion contemporaries, but exhibiting the counterintuitive property of improving with repeated charging cycles. Goodenough’s career began in 1943 (a year after your editor was born) with the award of his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Yale University, followed his master’s and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago in 1951 and 1952 respectively.  He worked at MIT and in 1976, left to become head of Oxford University’s Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory from 1976 …

Just for Openers – BlackFly

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A Seven-Year Stealth Project Opener doesn’t sound like the name of an airplane company, and BlackFly doesn’t sound like a very charming name for an airplane.  Maybe that’s how the developers of an eight-motor personal flying machine got away with it for so long. Beth Stanton, who writes wonderful articles about futuristic projects for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Sport Aviation magazine, alerted your editor about a project that sneaked under the radar for the past seven years. The airplane looks a bit like a single-seat Vahana, Airbus’s two-seat air taxi currently under test in eastern Oregon.  Where Vahana is just beginning flight tests, BlackFly has over 12,000 aerial miles carrying a payload in 1,400 flights.  BlackFly has gone through 40,000 …

From the CRADLE to the Breakthrough  Battery

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

Hyundai, the Korean carmaker turning increasingly to electric vehicles, has teamed with Ionic Materials, a Massachusetts-based battery developer to work on an innovative solid-state battery.  Ionic’s solid polymer electrolyte technology promised to improve battery safety and performance.  Liquid electrolytes are often blamed for disastrous battery fires, so the search for a solid-state alternative is one way to counter the problem. Hyundai’s CRADLE (Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences), “corporate venturing and open innovation business,” is investing in Ionic to gain access to the company’s technology, which also supports lithium-ion cells with no cobalt in their cathodes.  Reducing or eliminating cobalt in their batteries may be a major incentive for Hyundai.  Forbes reports, “Carmakers, such as Germany’s BMW, and electronic gadget …

NASA Freely Shares X57 Lessons

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

NASA and several partner firms have been working on the X-57 Maxwell electric propulsion demonstrator for the past several years.  It hasn’t been as easy as it looked at first.  Encouragingly, NASA is sharing some of the hard lessons it has learned in the process, much like Elon Musk sharing many of his patents with the world. One of the hardest lessons involved the multiple battery packs, originally planned to be off-the-shelf units.  A December 2016 test resulted in a thermal runaway, a situation in which one cell that overheats can self-destruct and cause adjacent cells to follow suit.  This, as we’ve seen in Dreamliner incidents, can be dangerous and potentially deadly.  Such fires are exceedingly well reported, with any Tesla …

Three June Races Electrified

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

Every June, three races provide insight into how much electric power has become a regular part of motorsports: The Isle of Man TT Zero motorcycle race, the 24 Hours of LeMans, and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.  This year, there were disappointments as well as triumphs, but progress nonetheless. Isle of Man TT Zero For followers of electric two-wheeling, this year’s Tourist Trophy (TT) Zero had one high moment, a record-setting run by Michael Rutter on a Team Mugen bike, which did one lap at 121.824 mph (18:34.956 for the 37.75 mile course).  Admittedly, because of the relatively low energy density of batteries to petrol, the electric bikes do a single lap compared to the six laps on the …

Tripling Down on Cathode Capacity

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

intercalation (countable and uncountable, plural intercalations) (chemistry) The reversible insertion of a molecule between two others. Wiktionary Enyuan Hu, a chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory explains the importance, and limitations, of intercalation in battery chemistry.  “The materials normally used in lithium-ion batteries are based on intercalation chemistry. This type of chemical reaction is very efficient; however, it only transfers a single electron, so the cathode capacity is limited. Some compounds like FeF3 are capable of transferring multiple electrons through a more complex reaction mechanism, called a conversion reaction.” Iron trifluoride (FeF3) is composed of “cost-effective and environmentally benign elements — iron and fluorine.  Researchers have been interested in using chemical compounds like FeF3 in lithium-ion batteries because they offer inherently higher capacities than traditional cathode …

GoFly Announces First Round Prize Winners

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

Boeing just announced the ten winners of Phase I in its GoFly competition, in which entrants design, build and fly a “personal flying device.”  As Boeing explains, contest rules are designed to enable entrants “To foster the development of safe, quiet, ultra-compact, near-VTOL personal flying devices capable of flying twenty miles while carrying a single person.”  The list of partners and co-sponsors is impressive and includes virtually all major American aviation advocacy groups. As the Green Flight Challenge demonstrated seven years ago, prize money encourages a grand series of investments by individuals in hopes of winning a prize.  In this case, 3,000 entries by 725 teams from 95 countries presented drawings and documents describing their proposed PFD, with a select …