Funneling Light and Energy with New Materials

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Adolfo De Sanctis, a Research Fellow in the Quantum Systems and Nanomaterials group at the University of Exeter (UK), earned his Ph. D. in physics with a dissertation on “Manipulating light in two-dimensional layered materials” (Nature Communications, May 2017).  The video below gives a short-hand view of his work. Other, less scholarly outlets (like this one) give an easy-to-read view of what he has accomplished, and why his research is of interest for many applications – including energy harvesting. Green Optimistic reports, “A team of researchers from the University of Exeter developed a solar cell with a record 60% efficiency. The idea behind this breakthrough is similar to using a ‘funnel’: corralling an amorphous collection of electrical charges into …

Riding the Sunshine Highway

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Sunday, July 22 found your editor at Bend, Oregon’s High Desert Museum for the finish of the 2018 American Solar Challenge.  The race started in Omaha, Nebraska on July 14 and followed parts of the Oregon National Historic Trail and the Lewis and Clark Trail. Omaha, NE (Starting line) – July 14 Grand Island, NE (Checkpoint) – July 14 Gering, NE (Stage stop) – July 15 – 16 Casper, WY (Checkpoint) – July 16 Lander, WY (Stage stop) – July 17-18 Farson, WY (Checkpoint) – July 18 Arco, ID (Stage stop) – July 19 – 20 Mountain Home, ID (Checkpoint) – July 20 Burns, OR (Stage stop) – July 21 – 22 Bend, OR (Finish line) – July 22 Teams …

John Goodenough’s Counterintuitive Battery

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

A Long and Productive Life On his 96th birthday today, John Goodenough and his research team’s latest findings are the subject of much speculation.  He, fellow scientist Maria Braga, and his research team have created a battery claimed to be three times as energy dense as existing lithium-ion contemporaries, but exhibiting the counterintuitive property of improving with repeated charging cycles. Goodenough’s career began in 1943 (a year after your editor was born) with the award of his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Yale University, followed his master’s and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago in 1951 and 1952 respectively.  He worked at MIT and in 1976, left to become head of Oxford University’s Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory from 1976 …

Peter Sripol Groundloops – But Check Out Those Motors!

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Peter Sripol is a high-energy model-airplane tester who put a twin-motor electric biplane together out of Home Depot/Lowes parts and flew it successfully.  That was a back of the envelope design that flew nonetheless. Peter did something a little more professional for his second go-round, crafting some professional-looking drawings.  Don’t look for any drawings for the earlier machine, he cautions, explaining there are none  He also wanted a pair of larger, slower turning propellers to move a large volume of air more slowly than the Rotomax 150s installed on the biplane.  He notes he’s looking for a lower kV (turns per Volt input). Peter works with Flite Test, a model airplane outfit seemingly willing to try anything.  That includes the …

SolarStratos Damaged During Testing

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A terse announcement from the SolarStratos project last week caused some dismay in your editor, but also gave hope that a brave project would go forward. “Payerne, July 6, 2018 – the solar stratospheric SolarStratos aircraft damaged this morning during a resistance test on Earth, in the base of the team at Payerne. No risk:” The bad news, “However, the wing was damaged and its repair will cause a delay in the team’s operational schedule,” was reminiscent of a failure of the Solar Impulse’s wing during static testing.  The break set that project back over a year but resulted in a wing that carried Solar Impulse 2 to Morocco and back, across the U. S., and finally, around the world. …

From the CRADLE to the Breakthrough  Battery

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Hyundai, the Korean carmaker turning increasingly to electric vehicles, has teamed with Ionic Materials, a Massachusetts-based battery developer to work on an innovative solid-state battery.  Ionic’s solid polymer electrolyte technology promised to improve battery safety and performance.  Liquid electrolytes are often blamed for disastrous battery fires, so the search for a solid-state alternative is one way to counter the problem. Hyundai’s CRADLE (Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences), “corporate venturing and open innovation business,” is investing in Ionic to gain access to the company’s technology, which also supports lithium-ion cells with no cobalt in their cathodes.  Reducing or eliminating cobalt in their batteries may be a major incentive for Hyundai.  Forbes reports, “Carmakers, such as Germany’s BMW, and electronic gadget …

Tripling Down on Cathode Capacity

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

intercalation (countable and uncountable, plural intercalations) (chemistry) The reversible insertion of a molecule between two others. Wiktionary Enyuan Hu, a chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory explains the importance, and limitations, of intercalation in battery chemistry.  “The materials normally used in lithium-ion batteries are based on intercalation chemistry. This type of chemical reaction is very efficient; however, it only transfers a single electron, so the cathode capacity is limited. Some compounds like FeF3 are capable of transferring multiple electrons through a more complex reaction mechanism, called a conversion reaction.” Iron trifluoride (FeF3) is composed of “cost-effective and environmentally benign elements — iron and fluorine.  Researchers have been interested in using chemical compounds like FeF3 in lithium-ion batteries because they offer inherently higher capacities than traditional cathode …

Two New and Unique Energy Storage Solutions

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries of various brands provide energy for Teslas, Leafs, and Bolts, but continue to disappoint by stalled energy density, power density, and safety concerns.  Two relative newcomers to the field might have answers to these concerns.  Unlike many other newcomers, production might be less than five years away. Enovix Corp. Ken Rentmeester, a good friend and retired chemical engineer, volunteers in the local TeenFlight program run by Dick VanGrunsven.  He shared his copy of the IEEE Spectrum containing an article about a new battery company that may have some answers to problems common to lithium batteries. The company’s claims for their Enovix battery are impressive.  “Patented 3D cell architecture, a patented 100% silicon anode, photolithography, and wafer …

Kitty Hawk Flyer Shows Improvements, Limits Continue

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Kitty Hawk Flyer, the Larry Page-backed “sky taxi,” seems like a great summer escape machine. One can learn to fly it in about an hour, but it will remain low and slow enough to give the thrill of flight without inordinate dangers.  That’s the marketing pitch from Kitty Hawk, and it’s not a bad one.  Imagine going to a beach or lake with dozens of these fluttering about over the water’s surface.  It’s the same kind of lure driving go-karts on a miniature race course has for vacationers. Safety is obviously a factor for a machine meant for amateur use.  John Lyon explains this in the Robb Report: “The zero-emissions Flyer is completely powered by electricity, and its propellers all …

Get a Spine!  Flexible, High-Density Energy Storage

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

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 …