Solar Impulse – the Movie

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse’s first flight was recorded and edited in fine style, which we share here, courtesy of the Solar Impulse project and YouTube. Note the apparent crosswind on landing, and Marcus Scherdel’s masterful handling of it. Note also that both outboard motors are shut down during the landing. A mere zephyr has a large effect on this beautiful, large, extremely slow craft. As the project’s backers note, the airplane has the size of an Airbus, the weight of a compact car, and the power of a scooter.

An Hour and 27 Minutes in the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The press release and pictures tell a beautiful story.  The CAFE Foundation offers its congratulations to the Solar Impulse team. This morning (April 7, 2010) at 10:27, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off from Payerne (VD) airfield on its maiden flight. Under the eyes of thousands of spectators from all over Switzerland, Solar Impulse HB-SIA slowly climbed up to 1200 meters. The next 87 minutes Solar Impulse test pilot Markus Scherdel spent familiarizing himself with the prototype’s flight behaviour and performing the initial flight exercises before making the first landing on the Vaudois tarmac. The execution of these various manoeuvres (turns, simulating the approach phase) was designed to get a feel for the aircraft and verify its controllability. “This first flight was …

The Future is Electric, and Attracting Attention

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 0 Comments

FlightGlobal.com, the online version of Flight International Magazine, has an overview of the electric aircraft scene in its April 6, 2010 release.   Among the many producers and proponents of electric flight noted in the article, Dr. Brien Seeley of the CAFE Foundation is quoted extensively, as is Calin Gologan of PC-Aero in Germany, both to present at the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, at Rohnert Park, California on April 23 and 24.  The article ponders the hopes of two hybrid electric aircraft powerplant developers, George Bye, featured in a February 21 entry in this blog, and Flight Design’s Oliver Reinhardt, the firm’s technical director.  Both face the issue of retrofitting existing light planes with their new engines, and the challenge …

Silicon Alloy Anode Yields 30-Percent More Capacity

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Just for notebook computers now, enough of these -as in the over 6,000 such cells that propel a Tesla, could have a profound short-term effect on our hopes for electric flight. The 18650 (18 mm in diameter, 65 mm long) cells by Panasonic are the first to offer a silicon alloy anode, a commercial verification of the research Drs. Cui and Cho have been performing. Panasonic promises 4.0 Amp hours capacity, almost 30-percent more than current lithium cells of the same size. This allows a notebook battery pack almost half the size of one using graphite anode cells. The good news is balanced by the fact that the Si-based cell, at 54 grams each, weighs 10 grams more than the …

Overcome Inertia, Read About Enertia

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

David Bettencourt, an eagle-eyed legal eagle in Hawaii, prompted me to pick up a copy of the April, 2010 Cycle World magazine, in which two articles advance the cause of electric transport.  The first,”Brammo Enertia”, is a critique of the electric cycle that you can buy at Best Buy.  It details the long-term interest of company founder Craig Bramscher in electric vehicles, and his analysis that a vehicle with sufficient range for today’s suburbanite, based on normal commuting needs and available technology, would have two wheels – hence the Enertia.  Matthew Miles, author of the piece, does a good job of comparing performance with a 250-cc Kawasaki Ninja.  Although the Enertia is no match for the IC-powered machine in off-the-line sprints or top speed, it wins …

Cutting Grass with Manfred Ruhmer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Uncategorized 0 Comments

Manfred Ruhmer has designed a motorized trike for the Laminar wing under which he has flown to world champion status three times, and achieved a world record flight of 701 kilometers (434.62 miles).  The trike can be powered with a Simonini two-stroke or Bailey four-stroke engine, or the Geiger/Eck electric motor/controller/folding propeller combination. Here, Manfred shows off some of his world-class flying skills.  Note that about 40 seconds into the video, the landing gear has picked up some vegetation.  Later, at around the 2:00 mark, the streamers reappear.  Whether this is from the grassy field from which Manfred flies, or some very low passes, is open to speculation. The Icaro 2000 site is useful for making some important comparisons between the IC engine options …

EAS IV is Your Ticket to an Electric Aircraft Future

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

This press release from the CAFE Foundation speaks for itself. The fourth symposium of its kind is an international, multidiscipline gathering which will  influence the very future of aviation. Santa Rosa, CA., Mar. 1, 2010 – The Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency (CAFE) Foundation’s 4th Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS IV) will convene a renowned faculty of experts on electric aircraft technologies on April 23-24, 2010, at the Doubletree Inn in Rohnert Park, California. The networking program will consist of presentations and exhibits on bio-fuel hybrids, advanced electric motors, solar panels, sailplane technology, fuel cells, future technology for batteries, battery safety during charging, propeller noise reduction, autonomous flight controls, drag reduction, vertical takeoff designs and NASA’s Green Flight Challenge competition. Each …

A Manned Swift Takes Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Uncategorized 3 Comments

Dr. Steve Morris is President of MLB Co., an enterprise specializing in low-cost, compact, remotely piloted and autonomous aerial surveillance, mapping and monitoring systems.  On December 23, 2009, he and his associates test flew their first man-carrying, directly-piloted craft – an electric one. Pilot Brian Porter made two flights totalling about 20 minutes in a part 103 ultralight Swift hang glider to which was attached a custom-built pilot/powerplant/landing gear module.  Power was by a Randall Fisher-supplied ElectraFlyer motor coupled to a reduction system built by Dr.  Morris and his associates at MLB. Despite limitation imposed by the motor controller’s maximum current and propeller efficiency limited to 65-75 percent, the airplane demonstrated performance within 10 percent of calculations.  Its rate of climb was 335 feet per minute, …

Bye Energy’s Green Flight Project

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 5 Comments

In his presentation at AirVenture 2009, George Bye, CEO of Bye Energy, set forth some ambitious goals for his company. This included the development of a hybrid electric power system for light aircraft (under 250 horsepower) with target markets for general aviation and experimental homebuilt aircraft. Bye explained that light, powerful electric motors and Lithium-ion batteries have achieved a mature technology level that makes this an ideal time to enter this new market. On February 18, Bye introduced the proof of concept systems that will enable him to achieve this.   The Green Flight Project consists, in its first phase, of an electric motor based on the UQM 125, a 90-pound, 95-percent efficient unit that puts out up to 168 horsepower (output …

From Formula 1 to Your Airplane?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

Imagine a high-energy system that could be dropped in your car for $1,600, give it a 30-percent boost in mileage (and a simultaneous reduction in its carbon footprint), and added pep off the line.  Imagine that this was developed by two of the leaders in Formula 1 racecar development.  You might be interested. Ricardo, a long-time developer of racing engine refinements, and Williams, oft-time winning chassis builder, are collaborating on just such a setup.  Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), developed originally for the 2009 Formula 1 racing season, used flywheels, batteries, and stunningly powerful electric motors (60 kW – 81 horsepower from four to eight kilogram cylinders) to augment the internal-combustion engines motivating the racers.  The systems were controversial and eventually …