Pollutants into Clean Energy: Batteries into Solar Cells

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

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 …

Researchers Strike Battery Fools Gold on Two Continents

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

Better, Cheaper, Faster.  That was the mantra when your editor worked in the semiconductor manufacturing world.  Designs, processes and materials were all recalibrated constantly to enable the march toward those three goals.  And to some extent, constant repetition helped us achieve the ideal of Moore’s Law, the dictum that computer chips would double the number of transistors they contained every two years.  Transistor density in computer chips determines the level of performance they can achieve, and this doubling has yet to reach its end. Unfortunately, batteries haven’t doubled in performance every two years, but seem to follow an annual five-to-eight-percent increase in energy density.  This would mean, at best, that energy densities would double every nine years.  The Tesla Forum notes …

Cambridge’s “Ultimate” Battery? Wait 10 Years and See

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

Cambridge University researchers claim to have successfully demonstrated how several of the problems impeding the practical development of the so-called “ultimate” battery, in this case a lithium-oxygen unit, could be overcome.  They make some pretty impressive claims, saying they’ve developed a working laboratory demonstrator with “very high” energy density – comparable to that of gasoline and with greater than 90-percent efficiency, and the ability to be recharged more than 2,000 times, or 5-1/2 years with a complete cycle and recharge every day. A lithium-oxygen or lithium-air battery of this type would allow an uninterrupted drive between London and Edinburgh on a single charge, about 415 miles, over 100 miles greater than the top mileages promised by Tesla and GM at …

Biggest, Fastest 3D Printed Airplane So Far

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials 1 Comment

Unveiled at the Dubai Air Show this week, the collaborative effort between Stratasys and Aurora Flight Sciences is the largest and fastest 3D-printed aircraft so far.  With a 9-foot wingspan and weighing 30 pounds, the unmanned aerial vehicle is also the first jet aircraft to be made through additive manufacturing. 80 percent by weight was made through the advanced process, the rest consisting of the engine, electronics and tires.  Because the airplane was designed in a collaborative computer aided design process, the parts could be printed in Stratasys’ facilities even though they were designed primarily in Aurora’s Virginia headquarters. Besides saving weight, the process saves time, the complete aircraft going from initial idea to first flight in under nine months. …

More Powerful, Longer Lasting Perovskites

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

Perovskites, calcium titanium oxide minerals composed of calcium titanate, with the chemical formula CaTiO, are found in relative abundance throughout the world and have  characteristics that make them a plausible candidate for use in solar cells. Initially showing good efficiency at small scales, perovskite solar cells were potentially less expensive to produce than conventional silicon-based units, and could be more efficient, especially as single-layer silicon cells reach their theoretical limit of 30-percent efficiency.  Perovskite cells could be configured to respond to different wavelengths of light, stacked on one another, and still be thinner than conventional solar cells. Part of the attraction of perovskites cells has been their rapid increase in efficiency, nearly equaling the best silicon cells in about six years, as opposed to the 35 …

Potassium Graphite Batteries?

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

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge. Daniel J. Boorstin Oregon State University researchers in Corvallis, Oregon have worked around an intellectual roadblock they say has kept potassium from serious consideration as a battery material for over eight decades.  This could be good news, since potassium is more plentiful and lower cost than lithium, and according to OSU scientists, almost as energetic. Xiulei (David) Ji, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Science at Oregon State University. points out that potassium-ion batteries haven’t been considered since the Hoover administration. Ji said, “For decades, people have assumed that potassium couldn’t work with graphite or …

EAS IX: David Calley’s Innovative Design and Use of Electric Motors

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

David Calley is  member of the CAFE Foundation Advisory Board, with a great deal of technical expertise to offer.  His small wind turbine sold over 150,000 units.  His patented design for the TrailerTail® increases fuel economy on semi-trucks and trailers by 5.4 percent at 65 miles per hour, according to SAE tests.  Last year at EAS VIII, he showed the potential for small motors with incredible torque that could power Sky Taxis. At this year’s EAS IX he described, in depth, the type of motor design he has been developing to power things like his three-wheel electric/pedal-powered commuter vehicle and landing-gear wheels on Sky Taxis and even rocket fuel pumps. He asked the not-too-rhetorical questions, “How high can electric motor …

Snow White – an Electric Flying Wing or a Lifting Body?

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

Klaus Burkhard publishes a wonderful web site and blog on ultralight sailplanes, with special attention to the Banjo sailplane, one of which he owns and flies.  His interest in other craft is broad, though, and he recently shared news of a flying wing sailplane that can be electrically powered.  Its designer and builder, Dr. Andre’s Chavarria-Krauser explains: “Schneewittchen (Snow White) is designed to fulfill the requirements of LTF-L, a class of very light airplanes with up to 120 [kilograms] (264 pounds – 10 more than U. S. Part 103 limits) empty weight. The requirements are quiet stringent, including not only the extremely low empty weight, but also a very low stall speed below 55 km/h (corresponds to 30 [knots] or 34 MPH).”   The …

Chip Yates in a New Role

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

We are used to seeing Chip Yates breaking records – speed records, mostly – but there is a side to Chip that comes as a surprise to most, and his new position as Vice President of Marketing for Norsk Titanium AS (NTi) might come as a shock beyond surprise.   Chip continues with his other enterprises, noting, “Yates Electrospace Corporation was awarded a development contract for the U.S. Marine Corps to design and prepare to build a 1,000 pound payload, disposable drone to resupply troops in harm’s way!” NTi prides itself on being, “The first U.S.-based 3D printing company capable of producing complex titanium components that will meet aerospace quality requirements. The patented additive manufacturing technology uses titanium wire feedstock …