Richard Van Grunsven’s Antares 20E

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

In a visit to Richard Van Grunsven’s airport home, just across the Sunset Highway from North Plains, Oregon, this blogger was privileged to get a closeup view of his Antares 20E, an electric self-launching sailplane from Germany’s Lange Aviation.  Spanning 20 meters (65.6 feet), the gleaming white ship has fluidity of line and integrity of design one would expect from Gerhard Waibel (the “W” in Alexander Schleicher’s ASW sailplanes).  The outstanding feature that sets this particular long-span craft apart is its 42 kilowatt (57 horsepower) motor, snugged neatly into a bay behind the pilot, and raised on a carbon-fiber mast by a smooth electric/hydraulic mechanism.  A cylindrical unit, the motor’s outer shell rotates about a stationary hub attached to the …

Smallest Four-Motor Electric Plane Flies

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For a company that employs over 119,000 and has annual revenues approaching 43 billion Euros ($55 billion), the Cri-Cri (Cricket) seems a minuscule part of their enterprise, but garners a huge share of publicity.  Reporters and photographers flocked to Le Bourget field near Paris on September 2 to record the first flight of the petite creation.  The EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company N.V.)  press release explains the excitement.   The all electric Cri-Cri, jointly developed by EADS Innovation Works, Aero Composites Saintonge and the Green Cri-Cri Association has made its official maiden flight at Le Bourget airport near Paris on Thursday. This Cri-Cri is the first-ever four-engined all-electric aerobatic plane. The event has been supported by the French Musée …

Life Cycle Analysis and a Letter Grade

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Researchers at the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Testing and Research (EMPA) have published a study in the current edition of the journal, Environmental Science & Technology, “Contribution of Li-Ion Batteries to the Environmental Impact of Electric Vehicles.”  The paper is available in its entirety online. It’s abstract notes that, “Little is known about the environmental impacts of the production, use and disposal of the lithium ion (Li-ion) battery. This makes it difficult to compare the environmental impacts of BEVs with those of internal combustion engine cars (ICEVs). Consequently, a detailed lifecycle inventory of a Li-ion battery and a rough LCA (Life Cycle Analysis) of BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) based mobility were compiled.”  This blog has an earlier introduction to …

Where Are They Now?

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Two automotive teams on epic journeys we’ve reported on previously are making great progress toward their goals. The Vislab Intercontinental Autonomous Challenge is in Samara, Russia, a few hundred miles north of the Kazakhstan border.  An ostensibly driverless tour from Parma, Italy to Shanghai, China is planned to arrive at its destination on October 10, 2010, 21 days before the end of the World Expo being held there.  On the way, two pairs of vehicles are testing Vislab’s goal “to move goods between two continents with non-polluting vehicles powered by green energy and with virtually no human intervention.” As noted in this blog, the Italian team is running two pairs of Piaggio vans on a route emulating but not duplicating …

Buckeyes Bullet to Record

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Engineering and design students with Ohio State University’s Center for Automotive Research heated the Bonneville Salt Flats August 23, 2010 with a speed record for electric vehicles on the famed white wasteland – 307.66 miles per hour for the average of two one-mile runs.  The Buckeye Bullet BBV2.5 flew through the flying mile at 320 mph under the experienced hand of Roger Schroer, a professional race driver who has worked with the University team for the last six years.  The Buckeyes await certification of their record by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, the worldwide motor sports governing body. The team comprises graduate and undergraduate students in multiple engineering disciplines.  Center Director Giorgio Rizzoni acts as team advisor, undergraduate David Cooke is …

Green Flight Challenge: Elektra One Progress

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Dipl. Ing. Calin Gologan, President of PC-Aero, showed the completed version of Elektra One, a Green Flight Challenge contender, at Friedrichshafen’s Expo for Sustainable Mobility in June. Over the last two years, PC-Aero has designed a series of light, electric-powered aircraft.  As Gologan explains, “Using the existent technology it is possible to fly with a one- and a two-seat aircraft without CO2-emission for more than 3 hours, without noise and for lower operation costs in comparison with classic aircrafts. This is the future of leisure aviation as a bridge to the next step: electric transportation.” Just two months after its debut at Aero 2010, Elektra One graced the halls again as part of “The Electric Avenue”.  Surrounded by electric vehicles of …

Ultralight and Electric – The Red Tail Hawk

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Many of us dream of retiring and pursuing the dreams that sustained us during our careers.  One man has done that with the kind of work ethic that makes retirement highly productive.  He maintains two web sites; a Yahoo group dedicated to his latest homebuilt electric sailplane, and a more inclusive overview of his many aeronautical projects. Jerry Booker took early retirement from the architectural technology profession, and having grown up on a farm, “enjoyed ‘green’ living, with a lot of physical activity, and now [lives] in the farm country in central Illinois.” Designing and building even a simple airplane is a task that requires the willingness to learn and explore new ideas, and if that craft includes an electric powerplant, a …

HALE Another: AeroVironment’s Global Observer

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We reported last month on Boeing’s High Altitude Long Endurance (HALE) unmanned aerial vehicle, the Phantom Eye.  Now AeroVironment’s similar HALE, the Global Observer, is undergoing initial flight testing at NASA Dryden Flight Test Center, Edwards Air Force Base, California. Meant to provide “persistent” communications and remote sensing capabiliies for military or civilian applications, the less-than-10,000-pound Global Observer can carry 400-pound payloads to 65,000 feet and stay there for a week on its four electric motors, which resemble larger versions of  the Astro-Flight motors used on Helios, Pathfinder, and other AeroVironment craft. Missions, according to the firm, include “low cost, rapidly deployable telecommunications infrastructure and GPS augmentation; hurricane and storm tracking, weather monitoring, wildfire detection, and sustained support for relief …

Power From the People

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GENeco, a United Kingdom waste treatment company, announced its new green alternative to fossil fuels – the methane from waste treatment plants.  Proposed over 40 years ago in the U. S., the energy source was ignored as an automotive (and potential aircraft fuel) for four decades because it was too “dirty” a fuel (insert obligatory joke here), although GENeco has been able to remove CO2  that would otherwise be problematical in an economical enough way to allow its use in vehicles. The company’s web site explains their expertise in such matters.  “Part of the Wessex Water group of companies, GENeco has the resources, experience, skills and financial strength to offer secure, long-term commitment to businesses, organisations and the agricultural sector looking to become more …

Smart Skies Down Under

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants 1 Comment

Mr Richard R. Glassock holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with honors, and supervises undegraduate unmanned aerial vehicle projects at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA). He currently leads the “Smart Skies” unmanned aerial systems flight-testing program and is working on his Master’s Thesis. At the Twenty-Fourth Bristol International Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems Conference, in 2009, Bristol United Kingdom he presented a detailed paper on a parallel hybrid system using off the shelf model aircraft components he and his associates designed and tested. “Multimodal Hybrid Powerplant for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Robotics” shows the use of an OS 10 cc model airplane engine, combined with a Plettenberg 220 motor. His group found …