Battery Options for Range and Longevity

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

Two varying approaches to battery development may hold clues to future directions for energy storage.  At the same time, their announcements, promising as they seem, reinforce our cautious attitudes toward how battery performance numbers are presented. PNNL Attacks the Electrolyte Issue According to Green Optimistic, “Researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a new formula for battery’s electrolyte solution to enhance its performance unprecedentedly in terms of its service life and storage capacity or an electric vehicle’s range.” The video gives an overview of what it takes to make a battery and hints at the reasons battery research takes so long to give up improved energy storage devices. Unprecedented the development may be, and the promise of …

Get a Spine!  Flexible, High-Density Energy Storage

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

The Vertebrate Battery “Prof. Yuan Yang of the engineering school at Columbia University (New York) modeled, designed, built, and fully evaluated a configuration that emulates the spine of vertebrates, while providing 85% of the energy density of a prismatic Li-ion cell with equivalent volume.” According to Power Electronics.com. Professor Yang’s 14-member team, working in the impressively-named Center for Precision Assembly of Superstratic and Superatomic Solids, and  inspired by the flexibility of the human spine and its ability to repeatedly endure bending and twisting, designed a battery that emulates the characteristics of what is in essence a structural battery.  We know from experience that our backbones can perform some pretty extraordinary twists and turns – witness the supple routines of gymnasts …

Ehang Flies One and Two Passengers in Surprising Flight Demonstrations

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

An Executive Perk Unlike Any Other Chinese firm Ehang staged a demonstration of great confidence in its 184 (one passenger, eight motors/rotors, and four arms) autonomous flight vehicle.  The CEO and all executive members of the firm, and Guangzhou government officials got rides, with many giving thumbs-up signs during their trips. Hu Huazhi, Founder and CEO of Ehang, fills us in on numbers.  Over 150 technicians and engineers worked more than 1,000 days and ran over 1,000 test flights to bring the Ehang 184 to its current level of trustworthiness.  Flights held at the Ehang test flight site in Llanyungang City show the founder using stick and rudder to control the machine.  Xiong Yifang, cofounder and CMO for Ehang, flew …

Book Your Perth Alpha Electro Flights for the Early Morning

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

Two Things That May Not Seem Related at First Recent news that Penrith, Australia was the hottest place on earth was underlined by videos of melting highways.  Penrith, a suburb of Sydney, reached 47.3° C (117° F), enough to turn asphalt into a sticky mess and force drivers onto less gummy shoulders. Although over 2,400 miles away, Perth, home to Joshua Portlock’s Electro.Aero flying service, is at roughly the same latitude, and experienced near-record heat this month.  Possibly, that accounts for the all-caps caution for prospective flyers: “WE RECOMMEND EARLY MORNING FLIGHTS IN SUMMER FOR THE SMOOTHEST CONDITIONS.” Joshua’s company took delivery of a Pipistrel Alpha Electro, and flew it on January 2, a first in Australian aviation.  He and …

Airbus, Williams Team to Expand Zephyr Program

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

What’s the HAPS, Guys? Airbus and Williams Advanced Engineering, two heavy hitters with the world’s largest commercial airliner and the world’s fastest formula electric cars, are collaborating on making a light, slow airplane stay up indefinitely.  Their memorandum of understanding (MOU) seeks to integrate Williams’ demonstrated abilities with “ultra-lightweight materials, battery technologies and electrical cell chemistries… in… Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) program.” Airbus Defense and Space has worked with Sion Power Corporation since 2015 to use Sion’s proprietary lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) batteries for use in Airbus’ Zephyr aircraft.  The current Zephyr S is the latest iteration of a series of solar-powered, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that will fly at 65,000 feet for months at a time. High Over Dubai …

Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Siemens Team Up on Hybrid Airliner

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

As many of your editor’s friends know, he is often lured to trolling the tabloids, looking for juicy bits about the royal family or Hollywood royalty.  Recently, while perusing the Daily Mail* for news of the upcoming Harry/Meaghan nuptials, he came across the big-headline news that three European power players – Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and Siemens, are collaborating on creating a testbed for a hybrid power system. The trio will take a Bae 146 four-engine regional jet, convert it to a hybrid demonstrator by 2020, and have a production plane in place by 2030.  The high-wing airplane has four turbofans in place now, but the partners will replace one with a Siemens two-megawatt electric motor powered by a Rolls-Royce two-megawatt generator …

Doing More with Less – BLI on a Big Scale

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

Hybrid and electric cars sell because they lower operating costs for the owner.  Designers and manufacturers sort out ways to increase efficiency, including streamlining, using low-rolling-resistance tires, and making structures lighter.  An added technology, boundary layer ingestion (BLI) may add to aircraft efficiency. NASA and industry leaders are working on equivalent solutions for aircraft, and airplanes will end up as different from today’s designs as Toyota Priuses and BMW i3s are from Ford Falcons or Chevrolet Corvettes.  NASA proclaims, “An aviation renaissance, one focused on energy efficiency and economic impact, is on the horizon, and it’s changing how engineers look at aircraft power and design.” Jim Heidmann, a manager of NASA’s Advanced Air Transport Technology Project (AATT), says, “I feel we …

109.5 minutes of Mad Creativity – Ending with an Electric Biplane

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

Peter Sripol is part of FliteTest, a group that sells electric model aircraft and components and produces some wild and wooly YouTube videos of their exploits.  The group’s products are mostly budget items, with simple aircraft quickly constructed the norm.  One example, the Simple Solar radio-controlled plane, can be built for under $60, and flies on two coreless motors.  Flite Test has quick build kits and FPV (First Person View) radio systems that allow a pilot to view, through an on-board camera, what a (really tiny) person on board the model would see.  This level of miniaturization and commodity-level pricing allows FliteTest to provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) kits to schools at the grade and high-school levels. MTV …

A123/Solid Power Partnership – A Safe Bet?

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

A123 Systems has worked with buffering chemistries to reduce the volatility of lithium batteries for the last decade.  Solid Power Inc. has taken a set of interesting new technologies to make batteries more energy dense and safer.   The two companies are combining efforts to make a more powerful, less-volatile battery, according to recent press releases. A123 produces nanophosphate (lithium iron phosphate – LiFePO4) and ultraphosphate batteries.  Their nanophosphate batteries are used in Porsche’s 919 hybrid, a LeMans Prototype (LMP1) endurance racer that was outright winner of the event this year.  They also power Eva Hakansson’s Killajoule and Bill Dube’s Killacycle – both record-holding electric motorcycles.  Their Ultraphosphate line is designed to work at low voltages and low temperatures, including 48-Volt …

MGM Compro Enjoys Good News in Europe and at Oshkosh

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

MGM Compro is a Czech company that seems to have a motor on half of every light electric airplane flying today.  Their motors have powered Airbus’s electric Cri-Cri (four 15-kilowatt units), the firm’s e-Fan, Ruppert Composite’s Archaeopteryx, e-Volo’s Volocopter, and any number of motorgliders and light sport aircraft buzzing quietly over Europe, and soon, America. Certification in Europe Certification is usually the route to wide acceptance of a new motor, proof that the unit has passed some rigorous tests and is suited for use in aircraft.  As Martin Dvorsky, Managing Director for the firm reports: We are really proud to announce that [the] MGM COMPRO complex propulsion unit just obtained [a] CERTIFICATE OF AIRWORTHINESS issued by [the] Slovak Federation of …