Kreisel Brothers – Austrian Entrepreneurs

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

We keep hoping for the long-awaited 10X, or even 5X battery that would make electric aviation “pop” in a significant way.  The Kreisel brothers in Austria are not developing new batteries or chemistries, but through careful design and manufacturing techniques, manage to reduce weight in their battery packages – one example being the two “ultra-lightweight battery units” they supply for PC-Aero’s Elektra One.  With a total weight of “just 64 kilograms,” (140.8 pounds), the packs “provide [an] efficient and reliable energy supply for a range of 400 kilometers (248 miles)… a flight duration of three hours [and a] speed of 160 kilometers per hour (99.2 mph).” Each pack stores 5.8 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy, or 5.52 kw-hr./kg.  That’s roughly an …

Siemens 260 kW Motor First Flight, and a Siemens at the 2016 SAS

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Siemens Motors announced the first public flight of their SP260D motor in an Extra 330LE aerobatic aircraft – although the motor had made its maiden, but not so public, flight on June 24.  Putting out 260 kilowatts (348.5 horsepower) in near silence according to Siemens, the motor will certainly be capable of putting the Extra through its paces. The motor weighs only 50 kilograms (110 pounds), and with its Siemens inverter adds little weight to the nose of the Extra.  Pipistrel-designed battery packs grouped behind it push the power-pack weight toward the center of gravity, which should enhance handling qualities. As Electronics Weekly reports, “Support structures have been on a finite element analysis diet. The aluminum ‘end shield’, for example, …

Pikes Peak 2016 – A Record-Setting Year

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Electric vehicles did not win the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb outright this year, but their overall showing was an indicator of how much progress designers have made in the last five years. Everyone’s a Winner! In 2011, Chip Yates rode his UQM-powered motorcycle to a record 12:50.094 time.  Part of the 12.42-mile course was dirt road then, adding to the thrills, but slowing overall times. “I felt bad for the fans that watched me through the dirt section. They saw an electric superbike going 1 mph around the hairpins in the dirt.”  He added this declaration, “We got a 12:51 time, I’ll take it, it’s plenty good for a rookie, and it’s plenty good for a home-made bike …

Kokam Introduces Bullet-Proof Battery

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Lithium battery puncture tests have provided many time-wasting moments on YouTube, presenting pyrotechnic displays in many versions.  Most are explosive and fiery examples of what is referred to euphemistically as “rapid deconstruction.” What if a battery could take a bullet and still offer superior energy, power and reliability?  Kokam answered this question for the military, showing that its new NANO battery technology “do[es] not experience thermal runaway when… shot,” according to a June 13 announcement. Intended “for the defense industry for use in submarines, support vehicles, armed fighting vehicles, and unmanned systems,” the battery combines three lithium-ion chemistries – Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP), Lithium Titanate Oxide (LTO) and Nickel Manganese Cobalt (NMC) – into a single battery, Battery University explains …

Follow the Battery Money

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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. Toyota explains that “Magnesium metal has long been theorized as a much safer and more energy-dense alternative …