Follow the Battery Money

Dean Sigler Batteries, Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

With Tesla’s $5.5 billion “gigafactory” already producing cells for its line of cars and its “Powerwall” home energy storage systems, it now seems like a tenuous, toe-dipping approach with Volkswagen announcing its own battery plans.  VW may invest up to $15.5 billion according to Tech News, the outlet projecting the highest number.  Others with less money but promising technologies are also betting on better batteries. Tesla Gigafactory Grand Opening – More to Come With only 14 percent of its total area completed, the Tesla Gigafactory on Electric Avenue (what else?) near Sparks, Nevada, is already up and running, producing Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack battery systems.  According to Teslarati.com, “Elon Musk told investors at the 4th quarter earnings call earlier this …

2016 Isle of Man TT Zero: Five Starters, Five Finishers

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Electric motorcycles are a recent addition to a historic race on a tiny island neatly centered in the Irish Sea between Scotland, Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and Wales.  Its 75,000 inhabitants cluster in villages that look like movie sets of rustic, pre-war England. Manx cats come from the island, tailless little creatures with long back legs that look almost rabbit-like. Bonus fact: Maurice, Robin and Barry Gibb (the Bee Gees) were all born on the Isle of Man. Having so few people to share the 688 miles of roads could make speeding a huge temptation.  The two-lane roads are twisty and narrow, though, and even without an official speed limit on many thoroughfares, speeds rarely average over 50 mph.  …

Sustainable Aviation Symposium 2016: Would You Believe Eric Darcy Deliberately Blows Up Batteries?

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Eric Darcy is NASA’s go-to guy for battery safety.  He is Battery Group Lead for Projects & Integration at NASA-Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, and consults frequently with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. His talk at the First Sustainable Aviation Symposium was titled, “Passively Thermal Runaway Propagation Resistant Battery Module That Achieves > 190 WH/KG.”  The output may not sound like much, being at the middle-to-high end of lithium battery performance: but the promise of passive thermal runaway resistance is all-important.  Remember, too, that larger output numbers are usually for individual cells.  Putting cells into a battery pack with battery management system (BMS) components, wiring, etc. usually reduces overall performance per weight. A few years ago, Dr. Darcy told …

Autonomous Drones Air-Drop Medical Supplies

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Zipline, a San Francisco-based startup, has partnered with the government of Rwanda to air-drop medical supplies to remote villages, truly a potential life-saver for many without immediate access to medicine or blood for transfusions. Several firms in America have promised delivery of consumer items using drones, with Flirtey’s quadrotor drone delivering “a package that included bottled water, emergency food and a first aid kit” to an uninhabited residential setting in Hawthorne, Nevada on April 7. Flirtey calls the flight “the first fully autonomous, FAA-approved urban drone delivery in the United States.” Another firm, Matternet, displayed its quadrotor delivery systems five years ago at the Green Flight Challenge Expo held at NASA Ames Research Center following the completion of the flying …

Sun Flyer Rollout

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

Yesterday, George Bye’s Aero Electric Aircraft Company (AEAC) rolled out its Sun Flyer, an electric two-seat training aircraft with photo-voltaic cells on the wing and tail to extend its range, and over two or three days, recharge its batteries.  With orders for 65 Sun Flyers already on the books, interest is high in this airplane. In an email, George informed your editor that, “We’re using the Enstroj Emrax 268 high voltage electric motor, rated at 100 kW and 400 volts nominal.  Of course, the motor ‘throttle’ is electronic.” He responded to a query about battery monitoring and protection: “Battery safety is multi-fold.  We monitor cells individually, cells within each ‘battery box’, (with electronic disconnect), battery box system electronic and mechanical …

Toyota Explores the Magnesium Alternative

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

We’d all love an electric car (or an airplane) that goes more than 100 miles flashing a “Low Battery” indicator.  Researchers at the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA) are working on a divergent approach to achieving greater range and smaller battery sizes by using magnesium as an active ingredient. In a bit of serendipitous synergy, Toyota principal scientist and chemical engineer Rana Mahtadi heard fellow researchers discussing development of an electrolyte for a practical magnesium battery.  She was researching hydrogen storage materials and their application to fuel cell technology at the time, and realized the two lines of research intersected nicely. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DJWXwhx8XE Toyota explains that “Magnesium metal has long been theorized as a much safer and more energy-dense …

Silicon, Sulfur and 3D graphene Makes High-Performance Battery

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

Lithium-sulfur batteries display winning qualities, such as low production cost, environmental friendliness, and high energy density.  Researchers usually give up, or look elsewhere, when the materials’ poor cycle life and loss of active materials on both anode and cathode show up. Researchers at Beihang University in Beijing report developing “a new Li-sulfur battery using honeycomb-like sulfur copolymer uniformly distributed onto 3D graphene (3D cpS-G) networks for a cathode material and a 3D lithiated Si-G network as anode.”  They report “a high reversible capacity of 620 milli-Amp hours per gram, [and an] ultrahigh energy density of 1,147 Watt-hours per kilogram (based on the total mass of cathode and anode), good high-rate capability and excellent cycle performance over 500 cycles (0.028% capacity …

Siemens Unveils a Little Something Extra

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Extra 330Ls have a long nose, usually cowling a Lycoming IO-540 or -580.  The 330 EL, though, houses 14 battery packs of 18.6 kilowatt-hours each (according to InfoAvion, an Argentinian publication), all to allow the Siemens D-SP260 to flex its 300 horsepower muscle and demonstrate what 1,000 Newton-meters (737 foot-pounds) of torque can do for vertical rolls. Flying Magazine thought that its display at AERO Friedrichshafen in Germany “could be a harbinger of the future of emission-free airshow performances.” Siemens intends to use the 330LE for flight test and optimization of a electric propulsion system based on the 50 kilogram (110 pound) motor on display.  Even the large battery array under the clear plastic cover (for Friedrichshafen only, one presumes, …

Doubling Down on Ions

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dual-ion intercalation alloying process probably won’t roll musically off the tongue, but the process has made a test cell that has greater specific density and energy density than the batteries in Teslas. Or the Chinese BYD electric sedan, according to its makers. It’s “environmentally friendly” and low cost, to add to its sales appeal. Yongbin Tang and his colleagues at Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) have created an aluminum-graphite dual-ion battery (AGDIB) that, “Compared with conventional LIBs, …shows an advantage in production cost (~ 50% lower), specific density (~1.3-2.0 times), and energy density (~1.6-2.8 times).” The team claims their battery can reach a volume energy density of the AGDIB ~560 Wh/L, “considerably higher” …

Quart in a Pint Pot

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

Lilium is still in its incubator stage, but drawing a lot of interest for its radical two-seat, high-speed aerial vehicle. EIT Climate-KIC, one of the funding organizations helping underwrite this startup, includes some startling claims in Lilium’s description. “Lilium is designing the world’s fastest and highest-range electric aircraft that is commercially available. “The two-seated light aircraft consumes half the energy of today’s most efficient electric cars and is so quiet that it can’t be heard flying in 1 km (@3,300 feet) altitude. It is propelled by electric impeller engines and features an extensive safety concept comprising a 3-fold redundant fly-by-wire control system, 12 redundant batteries and engines as well as a parachute rescue system for the whole aircraft.” The ESA Business …