Otherlab’s Cardboard Drone – “A Pizza Box… Shaped into a Wing”

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

A disposable drone that will make a one-way trip to a disaster area won’t add to the suffering if it dissolves within a few weeks of delivering its life-saving cargo.  That’s the promise of the “Aerial Platform Supporting Autonomous Resupply Actions” (APSARA), currently being developed by Otherlab, a San Francisco-based group specializing in next-generation creations.  Funded by DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), APSARA is part of their ICARUS program (Inbound, Controlled, Air-Releasable, Unrecoverable Systems).  The acronyms are becoming overwhelming. Disposable medical supplies are a commonplace in today’s clinics and hospitals.  A recent chat with a nurse elicited her concern that medical supplies were so readily disposable.  Latex or nitrile gloves, single-use syringes, and protective paper covers and wraps …

Metamaterial Knows No Bounds

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Jonathan Berger has come up with a foam structure that will make it more than the ephemeral filling in composite construction sandwiches.  Isomax™ foam could be the entire structure because of its unique geometry.  He claims it to be the world’s first material to achieve structural performance predicted by theoretical bounds. His letter in the journal Nature describes the geometry Berger and his collaborators created to enable such lightness, strength, and versatility.  Berger, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB’s mechanical engineering department, worked with mechanical engineering professor Robert McMeeking and materials scientist Haydn N. G. Wadley from the University of Virginia to prove the ideas Berger first conceived in 2015. This solid foam, “a combination of stiff substance and air pockets,” …

SA Symposium 2017 – An April Festival of Electric Flight

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, GFC, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, SAS, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

April 21 and 22, 2017, set your GPS for N 37° 31′ 20.84” W 122° 15′ 38.31” – the Hotel Pullman San Francisco Bay.  The refined and beautiful setting and four-star accommodations make a grand accompaniment to the story we will share. The story of the 2017 Sustainable Aviation Symposium includes the latest in aerodynamics, electric power and energy storage.  It’s a grand and sweeping review, told by talented intellects in the context of using the latest technology to help save the planet.  A few exemplars of the program highlight this year’s story, “ A Keynote Address from a Master Designer Tine Tomazic, Director of Research and Development for Pipistrel, created the G4 to win the 2011 Green Flight Challenge, …

Flying (Quietly) Like a REAL Bird!

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

Not Just an Academic Exercise Justin Jaworski, Lehigh University assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, P.C. Rossin College of Engineering and Applied Science, writes, “From antiquity to Harry Potter, owls continue to captivate and mystify us. Perhaps owls’ most mysterious feat is their ability to fly silently, which enables them to both sneak up on prey and hunt on the wing using their ears alone. For over 80 years, silent owl flight has been linked to a set of unique plumage features, but only recently have the mechanisms to suppress the ‘swoosh’ noise from owl wings been addressed in earnest.” This suppression of noise ensures that prey hunted by owls never know what hits them.  The …

5X Lithium Sulfur Battery with a Gut Feeling

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

Bio-mimicry presents itself in aerodynamics, from the emulation of soaring bird’s wing shapes on sailplane’s surfaces to owl-feather-like trailing edges on wind turbines.  We don’t often think of biological equivalents in energy storage (your editor didn’t until now, at least).  But researchers at Cambridge University in England and the Beijing Institute of Technology in China have turned to the small intestine for their breakthrough in battery development. Tiny cells lining the human intestine inspired these researchers to develop a prototype of a lithium-sulfur battery that they claim could have five times the energy density of conventional lithium-ion batteries.  Dr. Paul Coxon from Cambridge’s Department of Materials Science and Metallurgy says “This gets us a long way through the bottleneck which …

Making Silicon Anodes in Large Batches

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A Long-term Collaboration Dr. Jaephil Cho is a well-known battery researcher and inter-continental associate of Dr. Yi Cui of Stanford University.  The pair has collaborated on many ways to improve battery performance and longevity, and both have appeared at various electric aircraft symposia.  They have even inspired others in related research. Dr. Cho and his team at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) in South Korea announced a way to make a new generation battery anode material – a big move toward mass production of improved cells. Dr. Cho’s team of researchers affiliated with Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea, claims to have made yet another step towards finding a solution to accelerate the commercialization …

Getting Blood from Outback Joe – the 2016 Outback Challenge

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

Outback Joe goes through a lot of trauma in his overstuffed life.  This literal straw man gets tossed into some remote part of the Australian outback every year and waits for some kind of rescue.  This usually comes by air, drones searching for him and taking him medicine, food, water, or some other necessity.  That’s the Outback Challenge. One can see a condensed history of the competition from its inception in 2007 to today on Wikipedia, the entry including the different kinds of things Outback Joe needed for a mission to be successful. This year, however, competitors were supposed to bring back a reminder of their visit to Joe – a blood sample – a good trick from an inanimate …

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 …