Graphene Supercapacitor Shows Promise and Longevity

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

A forever battery would be nice, wouldn’t it?  Something low cost that could be recharged in seconds, time after time, indefinitely, and be about as environmentally sensitive as Greenpeace and the Sierra Club combined – there’s the ideal battery. That might seem like a miracle, and it relies on that miracle material – graphene – for its many astounding properties to help make this flexible battery a reality. Dr. Han Lin of Swinburne University in New South Wales, Australia has 3D printed his prototype battery at a much lower cost than with previous production techniques.  The immediate “take” on this material is that it could be used in things like watch straps, powering the attached timekeeper, or in (inter)active sports …

Toyota Explores the Magnesium Alternative

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

We’d all love an electric car (or an airplane) that goes more than 100 miles flashing a “Low Battery” indicator.  Researchers at the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA) are working on a divergent approach to achieving greater range and smaller battery sizes by using magnesium as an active ingredient. In a bit of serendipitous synergy, Toyota principal scientist and chemical engineer Rana Mahtadi heard fellow researchers discussing development of an electrolyte for a practical magnesium battery.  She was researching hydrogen storage materials and their application to fuel cell technology at the time, and realized the two lines of research intersected nicely. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1DJWXwhx8XE Toyota explains that “Magnesium metal has long been theorized as a much safer and more energy-dense …

Silicon, Sulfur and 3D graphene Makes High-Performance Battery

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

Lithium-sulfur batteries display winning qualities, such as low production cost, environmental friendliness, and high energy density.  Researchers usually give up, or look elsewhere, when the materials’ poor cycle life and loss of active materials on both anode and cathode show up. Researchers at Beihang University in Beijing report developing “a new Li-sulfur battery using honeycomb-like sulfur copolymer uniformly distributed onto 3D graphene (3D cpS-G) networks for a cathode material and a 3D lithiated Si-G network as anode.”  They report “a high reversible capacity of 620 milli-Amp hours per gram, [and an] ultrahigh energy density of 1,147 Watt-hours per kilogram (based on the total mass of cathode and anode), good high-rate capability and excellent cycle performance over 500 cycles (0.028% capacity …

NASA Rethinks X Planes

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

In your editor’s childhood and youth, X Planes were all premised on speed, Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier in 1947 in the Bell X-1 when your editor was five years old (do the math).  Movies that filled screens in those days featured test pilots as steely-jawed, fearless protagonists beating back the awesome forces in the sky.  Frequent news stories and breathlessly narrated newsreels, and later television news captured the imagination with items about going higher, faster, and farther. NASA is bringing back the X-plane, but emphasizing quiet, efficient, clean and practical goals.  NASA’s own description of the programs shows a turn toward green aviation in our future.  “Goals include showcasing how airliners can burn half the fuel and generate …

SULSA Guides the Royal Navy

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We reported on the reputedly first 3D-printed airplane, a laser-sintered plastic craft with a structure we compared to that of the WWII Wellington bomber, almost five years ago.  Since then, the aircraft has been dubbed SULSA (Southampton University Laser Sintered Airplane) and taken its place with the Royal Navy. Jim Scanlan, lead academic on the project and professor of design within engineering and the environment at the University, explains, “Not all of our aircraft are 3D printed and the biggest one is around 60 per cent 3D printed.  At the moment we make this lovely sophisticated lightweight structure and then spend a week making all the wiring and soldering. It’s labor-intensive and error prone. Our vision is that we print …

Quart in a Pint Pot

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

Lilium is still in its incubator stage, but drawing a lot of interest for its radical two-seat, high-speed aerial vehicle. EIT Climate-KIC, one of the funding organizations helping underwrite this startup, includes some startling claims in Lilium’s description. “Lilium is designing the world’s fastest and highest-range electric aircraft that is commercially available. “The two-seated light aircraft consumes half the energy of today’s most efficient electric cars and is so quiet that it can’t be heard flying in 1 km (@3,300 feet) altitude. It is propelled by electric impeller engines and features an extensive safety concept comprising a 3-fold redundant fly-by-wire control system, 12 redundant batteries and engines as well as a parachute rescue system for the whole aircraft.” The ESA Business …

Superoxides May Be New Super Materials for Batteries

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A significantly large and geographically diverse group of researchers has invested a large amount of time and intellectual capital investigating superoxides, an innovative way to keep lithium-air batteries refreshed and ready for more. Groups at Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea; the University of Utah and the University of Kentucky all contributed to the ongoing project. While still serving as U. S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu called on academia and industry to develop a battery five times as powerful as then available lithium cells, at one-fifth the cost of then current batteries. We may not have arrived at that ambitious goal yet, but Argonne and UIC see a possible breakthrough …

Deformable Flexible and Conductive – A Great Solid Electrolyte

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Reporting on a new material that doesn’t seem real, a joint research team from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and Seoul National University in Korea says it has developed a “highly-conductive, highly deformable, and dry-air-stable glass electrolyte for solid-state lithium-ion batteries.  If those characteristics seem mutually exclusive, the electrical performance helps dispel skepticism. Assisted by colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Brookhaven National Lab, the researchers prepared the electrolyte using a “homogenous methanol solution,” and wetting exposed surfaces of the electrode active materials with the solidified electrolyte. Eureka Alert! quotes Professor Yoon Seok Jung  (UNIST, School of Energy and Chemical Engineering) , “The research team also developed a material for the solid electrolyte by adding the iodized lithium …

Pollutants into Clean Energy: Batteries into Solar Cells

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

Editor’s Note: We will tackle some larger contexts for the blog, including not only the aeronautical uses of clean energy but the social, environmental and even economic implications of sustainable aviation.  This item appeals because it demonstrates the possibility of transforming materials otherwise hard to live with into products that enhance life and even give some hope for budget solar cells.  Angela Belcher has made battteries from viruses and works with biological solutions to energy production.  In this instance, she and her colleagues have shown a path to a sunnier future for all.  Her work combining quantum physics and biology in the example below highlights the potential in a true paradigm shift. Another, less exotic but no less exciting instance shows …

A Snowstorm in Singapore

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

Having worked on a three-week project in Singapore 10 years ago, your editor became accustomed to the daily temperatures approaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and evenings at a temperate 80 degrees (which some locals described as a “cold snap”).  It makes one wonder where the name “Snowstorm” came from when students at the National University of Singapore worked two semesters to bring their mult-rotor recreational flying vehicle to fruition.  An eight-person student team working as “FrogWorks” started with a 1/6th-scale model, then scaled that up to something that could carry and be controlled by a single pilot. FrogWorks is a collaborative effort between NUS Faculty of Engineering’s Design-Centric Program (DCP) and the University Scholars Program (USP).  According to NUS, “FrogWorks engages …