Faradair BEHA, an Electric Triplane for the Future

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

Triplanes were popular in World War One because they allowed great maneuverability for dog-fighting, a supreme survival necessity.  Their success in designs by Fokker and Sopwith, among others, gave them a certain panache.  Now, a Bristol, England-based company hopes to revive the triplane as a commuter aircraft ready to fly from regional airports. Faradair®, named after English physicist Michael Faraday*, hopes to craft an airplane that will allow flight from smaller regional airports and compete with even well-established rail service.  Their craft, BEHA – Bio-Electric Hybrid Aircraft, will fly six to eight lucky passengers on a quiet inter-city ride powered by a 300-horsepower internal combustion engine and two electric motors in a parallel-hybrid arrangement. Neil Cloughley, Managing Director and Founder …

Making Hydrogen at Ambient Temperature with Biomass

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Hydrogen would be a nearly perfect fuel if it didn’t take more energy to extract it than you can get out of it.  Scientists have been working for years to isolate it in an economical fashion.  The most common element in the universe, hydrogen makes up 10 percent of the weight of living things here on earth – mainly in water, proteins and fats.  Its bonds in water make it pervasive, but still distant.  Obtaining it can be as simple as the video below. But the short bursts derived from this approach will exhaust the battery and not provide as much energy in return. Waste Not, Want Not Ironically, much of the earth’s other resources, more easily gained, are wasted …

Renewable Biomethane – an Economic Alternative?

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Compressed natural gas (CNG) has several things going for it.  It is cheaper than gasoline or diesel fuel, has lower emissions, and for a conventional piston-engined airplane, is the equivalent of over 130 octane, far more powerful than 100-octane low lead (100LL) and cleaner burning. CNG Fuels in England CNG filling stations are growing across the country as fleet owners take advantage of the economics of converting their vehicles, but are still few and far between in the west, with the exception of California.  There are under 900 stations throughout America.  Alluring as CNG might be for drivers, pilots used to paying $5.50 per gallon for avgas should be charmed by CNG’s price of $1.00 per gallon equivalent. That is …

Gleaning the Forests for Jet Fuel

Dean Sigler Announcements, Biofuels, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Three congresspeople flew on wood-waste fumes this week, aboard an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-800 on its way from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEATAC) to Washington, DC.  It was the first commercial flight to “to be powered by a blend of renewable jet fuel made from forest residuals.” Waste Products Replace Fossil Fuels Alaska, Boeing, and SEATAC have partnered on including biofuels in the mix since early 2015, as reported here.  Later that year, United made flights out of Los Angeles International (LAX) using a blend of fossil-based jet fuel and biofuels made from farm and municipal waste.  Keeping waste out of landfills and producing a lower carbon-footprint fuel has several benefits.  In the case of forest waste, those branches, limbs and …

A 24-Volt Airplane Motor?

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

One of the big surprises in last month’s webinar hosted by the EAA and presented by Brian Carpenter of Rainbow Aviation Services/Adventure Aviation was the 24-Volt motor being developed for the EMG-6 ultralight motorglider. High and Low Voltages Many, if not most of the electric motors flying on existing craft are higher voltage units.  For sake of an off-handed definition, we’ll divide low and high at below and above 50 Volts, something OSHA delineates in its regulation 29 CFR 1910.303(g)(2)(i), which “generally requires “’live parts of electric equipment operating at 50 volts or more’ to be ‘guarded against accidental contact by use of approved cabinets or other forms of approved enclosures’ or by other specified means.”  In its explanation, the …

First motor Test Run for Equator P2

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The Equator P2 is a hybrid amphibious two-seater that looks like the future.  Under development for a decade, this amateur-built machine looks highly professional, surpassing in form and function many of its factory-built peers.  It had its first motor run-up recently, a much-anticipated event that met all expectations. Looking Like the Future, Built in a Garage One can see the garage-built home of the craft in the simple bracing used to hold the tail-mounted motor in place, an example of the truly hand-made nature of the Equator prototype.  The rudimentary surroundings fail to show the sophistication of the design, however, including a power system similar to that used on the range-extended e-Genius. Progress over the last nine years has been …

Nissan’s SOFC Vehicle – Just in Time for the Olympics

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Two major types of fuel cells vie for vehicle designers’ attention: PEM, or proton exchange membrane types, and solid oxide fuels cells (SOFCs). PEMs (also known as polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells) require an expensive catalyst such as platinum, and hydrogen as fuel. Hydrogen itself is costly to produce and runs up the operating cost for such a fuel cell. Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. timed things to coincide with the 2016 Olympics opening in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for the introduction of their solid oxide fuel cell vehicle, a van that runs on bio-ethanol electric power.  Nissan’s Carlos Ghosn claims this to be a first, with benefits for potential users. “The e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers eco-friendly transportation and creates opportunities for …

Don’t Smoke ‘Em Even if You’ve Got ‘Em

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Biofuels would be wonderful if they didn’t starve people while feeding trucks, cars and airplanes.  Living with such a constraint, though, might prove to be productive, profitable, and environmentally sound. The Guardian describes efforts in America’s tobacco country to grow a crop that will be less destructive of human lungs and hearts if it is consumed in jet engines rather than in cigarettes. “’We’re experimenting with varieties that were discarded 50 years ago by traditional tobacco growers because the flavors were poor or the plants didn’t have enough nicotine,’ explains Tyton [BioEnergy Systems] co-founder Peter Majeranowski.” In a case that oddly enough is GMO free, “Researchers are pioneering selective breeding techniques and genetic engineering to increase tobacco’s sugar and seed …

Photosynthesis Directly Makes Fuel

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

That’s what photosynthesis does in leaves – creates fuel in the form of plant sugars that flow into the plant to which the leaf is attached.  One of the main quibbles about trying to convert solar energy to usable fuel is the usual multi-step process involved.  Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have made a major advance in creating a solar cell that captures carbon dioxide (CO2) and uses sunlight to make a synthetic gas that can be burned as fuel. Scientists rarely use hyperbolic terms such as “extraordinary” in their findings.  According to Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering at UIC, “What we needed was a new family of chemicals with extraordinary properties.”  They …

Daniel Nocera Returns to the Artificial Leaf

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Many scientists are turning to mimicking nature to probe its secrets, but Daniel Nocera, the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University, has gone far beyond his natural model.  Reported in 2012, Nocera came up with the idea of an “artificial leaf,” a silicon sheet with a layer of cobalt-based catalyst that releases oxygen on one side and a layer a nickel-molybdenum-zinc alloy on the other side that releases hydrogen.  Several researchers have followed this initial breakthrough, trying different materials and combinations of ingredients. For a while, it looked as though Nocera turned his attention to battery development, but recent news shows he’s back investigating artificial leaves – with great improvements over his initial efforts – and those of …