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

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

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 …

Fraport And Volocopter Implement Infrastructure

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Helena Treeck, Senior Global PR Manager at Volocopter GmbH, announced that Volocopter and Fraport AG (the managing directorate for Frankfurt Airport) are, “Developing concepts for ground infrastructure and operations required for air taxi services at airports.” A Promising Concept As most of us know from inconvenient experience, getting to and from the airport and fighting our way through the obstacles between us and our assigned seat are frustrating and at times almost demeaning.  Volocopter probably can’t take away the patdowns and the delay in security lines, but it can release us from the traffic jams on the way to and from the airport. Volocopter proposes “Volocopter Ports,” a nest of landing platforms, battery swap stations, and boarding and departure zones.  …

Two Different Carbon Batteries

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

With lithium-ion batteries seeming to have topped out in their capabilities, battery researchers are looking at new ways of storing energy.  Zap&Go in England and Graphenano in Spain are exploiting a more common element  to good effect, crafting carbon batteries that charge quickly and last thousands of charge-discharge cycles.  Both attack their goals in very different ways. Zap&Go Carbon-ion Battery According to Microbattery.com, the Oxford-based organization Zap&Go has created and delivered a carbon-particle battery consolidating the superfast charging capacities of a supercapacitor to gain rapid charging and long cycle life.  Unfortunately, as far as electric vehicles go, it’s not quite ready for prime time.  The good news is that it’s on a well-structured timeline that will bring it to the vehicular world …

Making Structural Batteries More Sinewy

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

Multitudes of researchers have exercised their mental muscles trying to make man-made products mimic naturally-occurring structures.  According to University of Michigan researchers, the cartilage in your knees might provide the inspiration for a “structural battery” prototype that would be durable and easy to shape. This blog has long promoted the idea of structural batteries, energy storage systems that could double as strengthening elements in the aircraft shell.  Storing energy in car bumpers or airplane wings has some risk elements.  What will happen to a battery cracked by collisions on the ground or excessive loads in the air, for instance.  Nicking or puncturing existing batteries can cause flaming catastrophes. As U of M researchers note, “[Structural batteries] been a long-term goal …

Beta Technologies Testing Actual Prototype

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

Kyle Clark heads Beta Technologies, an aircraft company flying under the radar until recently.  Beta’s prototype, based on an RDD LX7, uses eight electric motors driving one fixed-pitch propeller each.  These are mounted on rotating tubular arms that allow vertical takeoffs and landings with the propellers in horizontal orientation and a claimed 170 mph cruise when in vertical orientation. VT Digger, an independent non-profit journal, reports, “Using homemade flight simulators, an array of 3D printers, a machine shop, and a team of nearly 40 staff and contracted engineers, Clark has big plans for his self-funded company, which occupies a hangar and other buildings at the Burlington airport. He intends to stand out for creating an aircraft with a power system …

Bell Nexus Debuts at CES 2019

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

This year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) had over 4,500 exhibitors, and one major aircraft company showing off its Bell Nexus sky taxi and its Autonomous Pod Transport (APT).  Fast Company reported that three major trends emerged: the thousands of devices that link to “virtual assistants” such as Alexa (28,000 apps), the introduction of a slew of Apple products, and the changes in transportation new technology will bring. Fast Company noted, “This long-term–and wildly futuristic–strategizing was on full display at CES. For starters, the Uber partner Bell showed off a second-stage concept of its flying car that both companies swear they will begin testing in 2020. (This has been on the docket for a while.) A full-scale model on the CES floor promised to …

Rolls-Royce ACCEL Program Goes For the Gold

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Rolls-Royce’s ACCEL program and a consortium of partners want to create the world’s fastest electric airplane.  The concept has a recent series of predecessors, and a fascinating tie to an American speed champion. About five years ago, something called the TEACO (The Electric Aircraft Company) Bat, a formula 1-type raceplane powered by an electric motor, generated a great deal of interest.  It initially housed a single 80-horsepower electric motor, but once affiliated with Williams Engineering; the project added a twin-motor unit on a set of sleeved parallel shafts swinging contra-rotating propellers. Now, a partnership led by Rolls-Royce seems to have added a third motor, with all three singing in unison to drive a three-bladed propeller.  The airframe is new, too, …

One on the Ramp, One on the Computer, and one Bent Tube Propulsor

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

With over 125 electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft in various stages of design and even flight test, we thought we would check in on three interesting prospects. The Lift Hexa Lift Aircraft of Austin, Texas promotes its 18-rotor single seater as, “THE WORLDS FIRST PERSONAL FLYING EXPERIENCE FOR EVERYONE.”  Looking a great deal like a skinny Volocopter, the Hexa shares many of its design attributes.  It’s “… triply redundant autopilot computer with a single, 3-axis joystick is all that is needed to fly. Or tap on the seven inch touchscreen in “Look mom, no hands!” mode.”  According to the firm’s web site, one can learn to fly Hexa with a few hours on a flight simulator and a brief session of personal instruction. …