Look What Fred To Started!

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

forty years ago today, Fred To’s Solar One flew the length of the runway at Lasham Airfield in Hampshire, England, solely on the energy derived from the weak winter illumination and stored in a small set of ni-cad batteries.. With his partner David Williams, he had built the wooden, model-aircraft-like structure in a farm building, visited by the farm’s horses and pigs. The airplane went on to be displayed at various airshows, and Fred went on to build an inflatable 100-foot-span flying wing that was the first to use “fly-by-wire” technology.  His inventiveness and design skills have informed many projects, as we reported in our November 2018 report on the award ceremony Fred recently attended. In short form, much has …

Simulations May Stimulate Better Hybrids

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

Phillip Ansell, assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois explains the benefits and downsides of fossil fuels. “Jet fuel and aviation gasoline are easy to store on an airplane. They are compact and lightweight when compared to the amount of energy they provide. Unfortunately, the actual combustion process is very inefficient. We’re harnessing only a small fraction of that energy but we currently don’t have electrical storage systems that can compete with that.” Ansell and colleagues are striving to use simulations to increase the range of hybrid aircraft.     Batteries provide their own set of problems. He explains that adding more batteries to go farther may have a certain logic, for …

Amprius’ Silicon Nanowire Batteries Fly – For 25 Days

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

Sunnyvale, California-based Amprius kept a low profile for several years, despite its founder, Yi Cui, being a leading light in battery development.  Their December 4th press release, though, finds the company to be in a more open mood, their advanced lithium-ion cells with 100-percent silicon anodes having flown Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo Satellite (HAPS) for over 25 days, “setting a new endurance and altitude record for stratospheric flight.” This milestone represents a great leap forward since Alan Cocconi flew his So Long solar-powered model for 48 hours, the first of many projects of which he would be an integral part, and the first solar airplane to fly overnight.  He worked on the General Motors EV1 and Eric Raymond’s Sunseeker …

EMBATT and the FAB Four

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No, it’s not the discovery of an unknown Richard Lester film*, but the impending prototype manufacturing collaboration for a battery that promises 450 Watt-hours per liter. Four heavy-hitters in German industry plan on making (fabricating) the flat-panel EMBATT battery into a reality – with all speed. thyssenkrupp System Engineering GmbH, IAV GmbH, Daimler AG, and Fraunhofer IKTS (Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems) have teamed up for the “EMBATT-goes-FAB” project sponsored by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. thyssenkrupp specializes in planning, designing and implementing production lines for cylindrical, pouch, and prismatic batteries, and will apply that expertise to the new format. IAV provides engineering and consulting services to auto makers worldwide, and has a depth of knowledge …

Rice Defeats Dendrites

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

Dr. James Tour of Rice University makes news regularly with different ways of making better batteries.  His latest, a thin-film coating of carbon nanotubes, will enable lithium metal batteries to potentially achieve their full potential. According to the Tour Laboratory, that potential is worth considering.  “Lithium metal charges much faster and holds about 10 times more energy by volume than the lithium-ion electrodes found in just about every electronic device, including cellphones and electric cars.”  This promise is offset by problems with dendrite growth, the intrusion of tooth-like projections from the surface of the anode metal.  If these growths expand far enough, they poke through the battery’s electrolyte and severely limit battery life.  Worst of all, if the dendrites reach …

The Diamond/Siemens Hybrid Test Bed

Dean Sigler Batteries, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

One should follow Dr. Frank Anton’s Twitter account – or at least check it occasionally.  Dr. Anton is head of Siemen’s Electric Aviation Division and posts new developments regularly.  Siemens is supplying motors to Diamond Aircraft’s prototype hybrid, a tidy tri-motor if you count the engine/generator in the nose of the formerly single-engine airplane. Partnered with Austria’s Diamond Aircraft Industries GmbH, Siemens motors powered an adaptation of their DA40 four-seat airplane.  A Diesel engine/generator in the nose of the formerly single-engine machine charges two 12-kilowatt batteries behind the passenger compartment and provides power to the two Siemens motors on the canard.  The whole thing looks a bit like a large economy-size Cri-Cri. Started in 2013, the project is under the …

Richard Glassock, Jeff Zaltman and Air Race E

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

Richard Glassock and Beacons of Excellence Richard Glassock is an Australian scholar and designer currently living in Nottingham, England, working as a Professor at the University of Nottingnam.  One if the founding lights in the Outback Joe competions, in which teams launched autonomuous aircraft into remote parts of Australia to find the eponymous character and deliver aid, he was on the forefront of things to come. Later, he designed a twin-motored sailplane to take parties of six or eight to cloudbase, a perfect outing for kid’s parties or adult’s anniversary celebrations.  He was part of a team that designed a modern hybrid parachute jump plane, optimized for rapid turnarounds.  His motorcycle range extender would enable a pilot to ride to …

The C4V Battery – Solid-State in Production?

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Jeffrey Engler of Wright Electric posted an item about Charge CCCV, LLC (C4V) which “demonstrated a prototype of its new Solid State Battery (SSB) at the NY BEST 2018 Fall Conference in New York.  The Company’s SSB solution delivers higher performance, higher density, lower cost batteries that promise to require significantly less charging time than others.”  The startup announced a 380 Watt-hour-per-kilogram battery already in production.  Since your editor tends to become a bit snarky about the usual two-to-five-year period of anticipation before these numbers become reality, he rushed to check out the claims. Plausible Numbers, but Uncertain Time Frame The firm’s numbers are not wildly excessive, and they seem to be getting funding and finding partnerships with established companies.  …

Terrafugia’s TF-2

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Terrafugia, unabashedly calling its vehicles “flying cars” in many of its public pronouncements, has floated a concept that is a serious departure from their two previous designs.  The TF-2 will be the equivalent of a shuttle bus, but with an aerial means of making a longer haul than mere in-town hops. Started by MIT graduates, many of them members of the rocketry club, Terrafugia has managed to garner an enormous number of media hits.  It even became a possible Christmas gift in the 2010 Hammacher Schlemmer Christmas catalog. It flew its Transition before the crowds at AirVenture in 2013, and was able to obtain certification as a Light Sport Aircraft since then, but with a slightly higher than original LSA …

The 17X Aluminum-Air Battery?

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Jaephil Cho has a surprise for us – an aluminum-air battery that is potentially (no pun intended) more energetic than gasoline.  Director of the Research Center for Innovative Battery Technologies and Professor in the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering, at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Cho and his students have released over 350 papers, including one titled, “Seed-mediated atomic-scale reconstruction of silver manganate nanoplates for oxygen reduction towards high-energy aluminum-air flow batteries.” While such titles might not get him on the NY Times best-seller list, Cho is widely respected, UNIST reporting he has been named to the 2017 Highly Cited Researchers List in materials science, a second such honor for him. Professor Cho’ Surprise Professor Cho’s …