Carbon Fiber and the Grand Unified Airplane

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

Your editor has long held the belief that we are on the threshold of creating a Grand Unified Airplane, a craft that would draw all its energy from solar cells, the flexing of its wings, the air passing over its form, and the very act of flight itself.  It seems to become less of a science fiction ideal and more of real-world possibility every day.  Carbon fiber could be part of that possibility. What if your airplane were its own battery?  Think of the weight savings and potential endurance and range.  Your editor became fascinated with 2010 research done by Dr. Emile Greenhalgh of Imperial University in London, who developed a structural sandwich with carbon fiber outer layers and a …

Promising 3D Printed Microlattice Battery

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

The three biggest words in battery structures are “Area, Area, Area.”  The more anode and cathode area a battery can expose to the electrolyte that carries ions and electrons between the positive and negative ends of the battery, the better.  Most battery configurations, according to researchers at Carnegie Mellon University and Missouri University of Science and Technology, block a great deal of interaction between these elements.  Their solution is to go porous in a microlattice battery, thanks to 3D printing. Electrodes present some surface area to the electrolyte, which can only interact with the surface area presented.  Rahul Panat at Carnegie Mellon and Jonghyun Park at Missouri S & T have created a cube-shaped battery composed of microlattice electrodes which …

Oxis Energy Hits a Lithium-Sulfur Battery High

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

That near-mythical 10X  (of current lithium cells’ energy density) battery hangs out there on the distant horizon, promising automobiles that can exceed 1,000 miles range, or light aircraft that can carry four at Cessna-like distances.  Right now, we have two-place trainers good for an hour’s laps around the circuit, and the hope for improvements soon.  OXIS Energy, a UK-based company, has achieved 425 Watt-hours per kilogram at the cell level, and looks to go higher in the near future. Lithium-Sulfur – A Worthy Alternative? Promoters of lithium-sulfur batteries suggest their products have several desirable characteristics and performance boosts that may transcend the limits of lithium-ion cells.  Sion Power, for instance, claims availability of their Licerion battery with an even better …

SmartFlyer is Looking Smart

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

Only a design concept just a few years ago, the SmartFlyer hybrid aircraft is swiftly approaching full-fledged reality.  CEO Rolf Stuber started the project and has been joined by Daniel Wenger, who shares design honors with him; and eleven others with a dazzling array of skills and degrees.  Every member of the team has built, flies or has flown in everything from gliders to “heavy” airliners. The team’s goal is to craft a “proof of concept” airplane which will fly by 2021. Facebook Updates Recent Facebook photographs show a nose section with a Rotax 914 engine driving a special generator, yards of orange cable connecting the big pieces, and a set of formers for what will probably be the fuselage …

Wireless Charging for Drones

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

In its introduction, Global Energy Transmission Corporation (GET) promises virtually indefinite flight for multi-rotor aircraft.  “GET re-invents [the] commercial drone industry providing [a] technical solution to power drones in 24×7 mode around dedicated area[s]. An electrically powered drone can recharge and fly indefinitely via efficient safe high power in-flight rapid recharging in a GET power hotspot. The company’s distance wireless charging technologies uniquely enable drone delivery and many other industrial applications.and many other industrial applications.”  This wireless charging concept goes back a long way. Tesla’s Dream In the film The Prestige, key parts center on visits to Nikola Tesla’s laboratory in upstate New York, where the tower that dominates the grounds was one of his dreams.  Although never completed in …

The Second SmartFlyer Challenge 2018

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

Grenchen Airport in Switzerland held the second SmartFlyer Challenge on September 1st and 2nd, with a good showing for the European – and especially the Czech electric aircraft industry.  Although smaller in numbers of airplanes than last year’s premier event, the Challenge featured a series of top-drawer presentations by industry leaders, and the viewing of a new Czechoslovokian electric motorglider. A Distinguished Visitor Interest in the event is high in the Canton of Solothurn, the administrative region in which Grenchen resides.  The head of the Department of Economics for the Canton, Brigit Wyss, reported on the event in her personal blog.  She proclaimed, “Grenchen establishes itself as the European center of electric aviation. The Smartflyer Challenge, which was a novelty a …

Solar-Only Quadrotor in Singapore

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

In their latest adventure in derring-do, a team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Engineering has developed and flown Asia’s first fully solar-powered quadcopter drone.  A large framework holds the solar cells, which are the sole means of powering the craft’s four motors.  Developers have flown the big square above 10 meters in test flights and achieved controllable flight without the use of batteries. Frogworks Snowstorm This is just the latest in a series of aeronautical exploits by NUS students.  In late 2015, they unveiled their Frogworks Snowstorm, a 24-rotor person carrier powered by 2.2 kilowatt (2.94 horsepower) motors driving 76-centimeter (30-inch) propellers. New Asia reported that, “At the London edition of technology event Founders Forum this …

Solid-State Progress at the University of Michigan

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Battery breakthrough: Doubling performance with lithium metal that doesn’t catch fire Longer-lasting drop-in replacements for lithium ion could be on the horizon These two headlines top a report by Angela Wegrecki from the University of Michigan’s News Service, and despite their hopeful vibes, may even elicit yawns.  We see similar claims regularly, accompanied by promises of a five-year wait for the production models to begin rolling off the line. Most batteries are developed by researchers working with small budgets and small facilities.  Thomas Edison had 40 assistants working with him to test the 1,600 different filaments tried before hitting on a carbonized sewing thread that gave the light he was seeking.  The University of Michigan has 2,700 square feet and …

Liquid Batteries for Aircraft?

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NASA is investigating “the integration of nanoelectrofuel (NEF) flow batteries with rim-driven electric motors to produce a safe, clean and quiet propulsion system for aircraft,” according to Aviation Week. That is the promise of an early-stage rechargeable liquid battery technology under investigation by NASA. The agency is researching the integration of NEF flow batteries with rim-driven electric motors to produce a safe, clean and quiet propulsion system for aircraft.  The rim-driven motors are used on boats as thrusters, and may have applications on small unmanned aircraft, although researchers have seen disappointing results so far. Tying these motors to more promising research into” non-explosive energy storage technology” is part of NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s Aqueous Quick-Charging Battery Integration for Flight …

VerdeGo’s Integrated Distributed Power System

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

Erik Lindbergh, grandson of the famed trans-Atlantic flight pioneer, has been paying his dues in aviation for decades, working to involve young people in career-building roles, and advocating for “green” aviation.  His latest roles have found him mentoring a group of Embry Riddle students in developing an electric HK-36 (shown last year at AirVenture), and in developing one of the over 100 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) potential sky taxis coming into public view.  That sky taxi may not make it to market, but Lindbergh and partners’ Integrated Distributed Power system is headed that way. At the 2017 AirVenture, he shared the news that he was working on something exciting.  That turned out to be the VerdeGo project, an …