Roof Top Hydrogen-Generating Solar Cells for Vehicles

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Students at the University of Leuven, the Netherlands, have won the first Energy Award, sponsored by Febeliec – the association of industrial energy consumers, a Belgian trade association. Their miniature solar panel produces hydrogen gas when exposed to sunlight, not unlike “artificial leaves” of other researchers.  The bioscience engineers crafted a small square panel that can be mounted to rooftops, including those of cars, to convert water vapor in the air to H2 that could feed fuel cells in the building or vehicle.  This could also reduce CO2 “on a large scale to convert it into useful substances,” according to the team of young scientists. Generating electricity and producing hydrogen at the same time is a neat trick, but the …

A Flight to Counter Plastic Pollution

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Jeremy Rowsell, an Australian pilot and concerned environmentalist, has seen plastic littering beaches around the world, and knows of the micro-plastic particles ingested by fish and sea birds.  His hope four years ago was to fly a Cessna from Australia to London and back – powered by fuel made from that waste plastic. That event never came, and Rowsell is back with a still ambitious plan to fly an RV-9A from San Francisco, California (the world’s innovation hub, according to the project’s web site) to Anchorage, Alaska (the world’s climate change frontier), following a safer route than the originally planned oceanic journey. The Problem and One Solution Partnering with Plasticenergy, a Spanish company that uses “end-of-life” plastic to make commercially …

One step to Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels from Thin Air

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

University of Texas at Arlington chemists and engineers have converted carbon dioxide and water directly into useable liquid hydrocarbon fuels – in one step.  The “simple and inexpensive new sustainable fuels technology” used concentrated sunlight, high pressure and heat to remove CO2 from the air and even revert oxygen back into the system. Researchers demonstrated that a one-step conversion of carbon dioxide and water into liquid hydrocarbons and oxygen can be performed in a photothermochemical flow reactor operating at 180 to 200 degrees C and pressures up to six atmospheres. Brian Dennis, UTA professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and co-principal investigator of the project, explains, “We are the first to use both light and heat to synthesize liquid hydrocarbons in a …

Tomas Brødreskift to Appear at SA Symposium

Dean Sigler Announcements, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

With the upcoming Sustainable Aviation Symposium (May 6-7, 2016) already packed with stellar presenters, we are excited to have Tomas Brødreskift join the faculty.  An industrial designer whose skills in product and process design, project management, ergonomics, and visual and CAD design have led and enabled him to bring his amphibious Equator P2 Xcursion to life will share his expertise and experiences with attendees at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay. Tomas’ demonstrated skills in designing everything from Hardrocx mountain bikes to an array of consumer goods have helped prepare him to guide the Xcursion from concept to final product.  Since he has overseen every step of the design/build process, the airplane is a reflection of its unique specification and its …

Electric Jet Hybrids – Big and Small

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

NASA’s Glenn Research Center reviews the prevalence of fossil fuels in keeping us flying for over a century. “Since the beginning, commercial planes have been powered by carbon-based fuels such as gasoline or kerosene. While these provide the energy to lift large commercial jets into the world’s airspace, electric power is now seen as a new frontier for providing thrust and power for flight.” Noting the use of hybrid and turboelectric power used to increase efficiency in cars, boats and trains, NASA has set a goal “to help the aircraft industry shift from relying solely on gas turbines to using hybrid electric and turboelectric propulsion in order to reduce energy consumption, emissions and noise.” This would require a large shift …

SeaTac, Boeing, Alaska Airlines Partner on Biofuel

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Aviation accounts for about two-to-three percent of the total CO2 emitted through burning fossil fuels, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That’s even with military jets flashing their afterburners and trailing un-enhanced high-altitude contrails. Whether these emissions add to global warming or global cooling seems to be still open to debate. Regardless, almost everyone in the industry feels it is worth eliminating the negative aspects of aircraft emissions. Sea-Tac’s Big Plan Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, Alaska Airlines and Boeing are partnering to power all flights from Sea-Tac with “sustainable aviation biofuel.” The trio has crafted a long-term roadmap to devise an infrastructure “in a cost-effective, efficient manner.” There may be benefits to the local economy, as well as to …

A Solar-Algae Hybrid for an Atlantic Crossing

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Henri Mignet was never quite able to master an airplane with three-axis controls, and built at least seven flawed attempts at simplified controlled flight. His seminal try, the HM-8 Pou de Ciel (literally, Louse of the Sky, or more familiarly, Flying Flea) became first a matter of celebration for amateur aviators and then a cause of scandal, being banned in Britain following a series of fatal crashes. The “formula”, as proponents called Mignet’s tandem wing configuration, was sorted out after wind tunnel tests in England and America uncovered the flaw that caused the craft to pitch down in an unrecoverable dive. (For a well-illustrated history of Mignet’s design, see Henri Mignet and his Flying Fleas by Ken Ellis and Geoff …

Green Aviation at COP21

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power Leave a Comment

COP21, the Congress of Parties 21 – the 21st gathering of nations and organizations working toward an agreement on reducing greenhouse gases, has concluded with what many conclude to be a historic turn from fossil fuels to cleaner, greener means of powering the world’s economy.  At a gala “SolutionsCOP21 – Celebrate the Champions Night” at the Grand Palais on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, leaders in demonstrating clean energy solutions were honored and awarded. Globe-straddling solar aviation and electric commuter helicopters showed a few of the environmentally conscientious directions aviation has taken and in which sustainable flight can take flight in the near future. Eraole, Mignet’s Formula Redefined Eraole, with its first motor run at COP21, is a tandem-winged cruiser that …

An American HPA Takes Flight

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Alec Proudfoot made a 233-meter (764-feet), 37-second flight in his DaSH PA (Dead Simple Human-Powered Airplane) on December 4 at Half Moon Bay Airport west of San Francisco.  The 33.3 meter (108.27 feet) wingspan (it can be extended to 40 meters, or 131.23 feet) aircraft did well until a weak flange on the vertical tail mount failed. Alec reported his personal state of readiness and some details of the flight in an email to the British Human Powered Flying Club.  “…pilot max weight at just above 90 kg (me, out of shape and about 15 lbs. heavier than optimal). “It flew a lot easier than expected (meaning less power required than I thought it would) and handled great. A bit …

Flying More Economical, Less Polluting Than Driving?

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Ilan Kroo, in a 2014 Electric Aircraft Symposium presentation, showed that a “narrow-body” airliner (for example, the Boeing 737-800) is able to fly one passenger coast-to-coast on 29 gallons of fuel, at about 81 passenger miles per gallon.  Driving responsibly, a carpool of four or five in a Prius could show greater operational economy, but take about 40 or more hours to make the trip (and lots of breaks) compared to the five hours in one jump it takes the Boeing.  Worse, the same Prius is often stuck in gridlock traffic for short drives with only the driver on board.  Even a hybrid’s mileage suffers under such circumstances. Several popular publications have taken up that “meme” in the last week.  …