Honda’s Fluoride Battery

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

Can the stuff that protects your teeth find happiness storing electrical energy?  Researchers are brushing up on their chemistry to produce a fluoride battery – almost the total opposite of a lithium battery.  Three years ago, The Journal of Fluorine Chemistry quibbled, “Only a handful of publications exist on the topic of fluoride ion batteries (FIBs). These are electrochemical cells in which a negative anion—fluoride—enables charge transport. In this review, we will report, for the first time, an extensive theoretical screening of FIBs as well as an analysis of the safety and toxicity of electrochemical couples of such batteries.”   It continued with an exploration of high-temperature (150° C, or 302° F) and room-temperature examples of fluoride cells and ended with …

Tiny Pieces Form Morphing Wing

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

MIT and NASA have constructed several aircraft wings using tiny, identical pieces bolted together in a highly flexible, deform-able structure.  At that, the wing is light, strong, and capable of “morphing” in ways that enable slower landing speeds, faster rates of climb, and high maneuverability. A Lot like Fractals This type of assembly is much like fractals, repeated forms that assemble into larger forms that become enlarged examples of the smaller ones.  These forms are part of the natural world, so the mimicry in the morphing wing can very mach be said to be an organic design. The tiny pieces comprise thousands of miniature triangles “matchstick-like struts,” according to David L. Chandler at the MIT News Office.  The tiny subassemblies …

Superionic Batteries – Are We There Yet?

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

Tohoku University, near the northern Japanese city of Sendai, finds, in a recent paper, “…The development of complex hydride solid electrolytes that exhibit high ionic conductivity at room temperature will be a revolutionary breakthrough for all-solid-state batteries employing a lithium metal anode.”  Researchers at the University lists the potential energy density for a battery using these so-called “superionic” materials as greater than 2,500 Watt-hours per kilogram “at a high current density of 5,016 miliAmps per gram.   This energy density would result in the fabled 10X battery – ten times the energy density of a conventional lithium-ion battery – that has been the subject of international research for the last decade. Tohoku’s press release states, “Scientists from Tohoku University and the …

Silicone Wrinkles Can Be Beautiful

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

 Hanqing Jiang, a professor in ASU’s School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy, has come up with a clever and inexpensive way to fight dendrites in lithium batteries.  Since these spiky little outbreaks can lead to battery fires, his team’s findings might lead to safer batteries.  The approach involves silicone. Many of us put up a (usually futile) fight against wrinkles, our youth culture spending fortunes to avoid the inevitable.  Scientists at Arizona State University, however, are encouraging wrinkles in their lithium-metal batteries, and pouring cheap silicone goo over their anodes to discourage dendrites from popping up. This novel approach to crafting lithium metal anodes for batteries is something Arizona State University scientists are working on, with surprising results.  …

Mixing It Up With MXene

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

Over the years reporting on battery developments, we’ve seen paper batteries, spray-on batteries, structural batteries and many types of material mixes.  Drexel University has tossed all the above intone big hopper and come up with MXene, a potentially dynamic way of making batteries, supercapacitors, antennas, and structural elements that can be conductors, semiconductors, and insulators, among myriad applications. Going Through a Phase MXenes are formed from layered MAX phases, defined by Drexel as forming, “A large family of ternary(composed of three) carbides with the general formula Mn+1AXn, where n = 1–3, M is an early transition metal, A is an A-group element (mostly IIIA and IVA), and X is C and/or N:”  That level of chemistry is two quantum leaps above your editor’s pay grade, so you’ll have …

Is Ionic Propulsion Plausible?

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

Ethan Krauss responds to MIT’s Ionic Flyer Coverage There seems to be great interest in ionic propulsion.  After we published “MIT’s Ionic Flyer – Solid State All the Way,” our editorial offices (otherwise known as your editor’s kitchen) received a comment from Ethan Krauss, who corrected the historical record.  He explains, “MIT was NOT “the first ion propelled aircraft of any kind to carry their power supply, as their video and paper say.  They don’t use less voltage, they are not more efficient, they are not the largest. Size was not the limit in the past.” Click on image to see video of MIT’s first flights. “They are the second in the world to be able to claim that they …

Two Different Carbon Batteries

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

With lithium-ion batteries seeming to have topped out in their capabilities, battery researchers are looking at new ways of storing energy.  Zap&Go in England and Graphenano in Spain are exploiting a more common element  to good effect, crafting carbon batteries that charge quickly and last thousands of charge-discharge cycles.  Both attack their goals in very different ways. Zap&Go Carbon-ion Battery According to Microbattery.com, the Oxford-based organization Zap&Go has created and delivered a carbon-particle battery consolidating the superfast charging capacities of a supercapacitor to gain rapid charging and long cycle life.  Unfortunately, as far as electric vehicles go, it’s not quite ready for prime time.  The good news is that it’s on a well-structured timeline that will bring it to the vehicular world …

Making Structural Batteries More Sinewy

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

Multitudes of researchers have exercised their mental muscles trying to make man-made products mimic naturally-occurring structures.  According to University of Michigan researchers, the cartilage in your knees might provide the inspiration for a “structural battery” prototype that would be durable and easy to shape. This blog has long promoted the idea of structural batteries, energy storage systems that could double as strengthening elements in the aircraft shell.  Storing energy in car bumpers or airplane wings has some risk elements.  What will happen to a battery cracked by collisions on the ground or excessive loads in the air, for instance.  Nicking or puncturing existing batteries can cause flaming catastrophes. As U of M researchers note, “[Structural batteries] been a long-term goal …

Look What Fred To Started!

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

forty years ago today, Fred To’s Solar One flew the length of the runway at Lasham Airfield in Hampshire, England, solely on the energy derived from the weak winter illumination and stored in a small set of ni-cad batteries.. With his partner David Williams, he had built the wooden, model-aircraft-like structure in a farm building, visited by the farm’s horses and pigs. The airplane went on to be displayed at various airshows, and Fred went on to build an inflatable 100-foot-span flying wing that was the first to use “fly-by-wire” technology.  His inventiveness and design skills have informed many projects, as we reported in our November 2018 report on the award ceremony Fred recently attended. In short form, much has …

MIT’s Ionic Flyer – Solid State All the Way

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

This week, a kerfuffle tsunami has swept through the aeronautical press, with the announcement by Steven Barret of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that he has flown an ion-powered airplane that “doesn’t depend on fossil fuels or batteries.”*  (A minor point – the airplane does have a battery that gets its output voltage ramped up by a custom power supply.) Five years ago, your editor reported on ionic thrusters, several of which were being tested by Barrett, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics. These little devices have great promise for moving vehicles in space, where the vacuum presents no aerodynamic drag to overcome. Even a small nudge from a thruster in space will cause a vehicle to accelerate. They …