Liquid Batteries for Aircraft?

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

NASA is investigating “the integration of nanoelectrofuel (NEF) flow batteries with rim-driven electric motors to produce a safe, clean and quiet propulsion system for aircraft,” according to Aviation Week. That is the promise of an early-stage rechargeable liquid battery technology under investigation by NASA. The agency is researching the integration of NEF flow batteries with rim-driven electric motors to produce a safe, clean and quiet propulsion system for aircraft.  The rim-driven motors are used on boats as thrusters, and may have applications on small unmanned aircraft, although researchers have seen disappointing results so far. Tying these motors to more promising research into” non-explosive energy storage technology” is part of NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s Aqueous Quick-Charging Battery Integration for Flight …

RMIT’s Proton Battery – Going with the Flow

Dean Sigler Batteries, Fuel Cells, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Fuel Cell, Flow Battery Professor John Andrews of RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia, has announced a “proton battery” that combines features of fuel cells and flow batteries. The first rechargeable battery of its type, it is, as reported in Green Car Congress, “Environmentally friendly, and has the potential, with further development, to store more energy than currently-available lithium ion batteries.”   Interestingly, the battery uses no lithium, but relies on the building blocks of life, carbon and water, for its operation.  In their paper in the International Journal of Hydrogen Energy, Andrews and his fellow researchers explain, “Essentially a proton battery is a reversible PEM [Proton Exchange Membrane, or Polymer Electrolyte Membrane] fuel cell with an integrated solid-state electrode for storing …

Lange Research Shows Six-Motor, Fuel-Cell Driven E2 at Aero Expo

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Biofuels, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Hybrid Aircraft, SAS, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Lange Aviation explained the large glider-like machine on display at the 2018 Aero Expo this way: “During this year’s AERO in Friedrichshafen, a mock-up of the Antares E2 was displayed publicly for the first time by our sister company, Lange Research Aircraft GmbH. The Antares E2 is an aircraft with an extreme endurance and very high reliability, which has been designed primarily to address maritime monitoring tasks such as fishery control. In order to fulfill the design goals, a novel propulsive system using six fuel-cell systems and six over-wing propulsors has been developed.  A Large, Heavy Machine Beyond Glider Status Weighing in at a hefty 1,650 kilograms (3,630 pounds), the Lange E2 carries that weight on a 23 meter (75.45 …

Solid Carbon Fuel Cell May Mean “Clean Coal”

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

For transportation, two types of fuel cells come to mind: PEMs or SOFCs.  A third variety, DCFCs, may have a place in transport systems, and may have advantages in using “dirty” fuels. PEM (Polymer Electrolyte Membrane – or Proton Exchange Membrane) cells use a solid polymer as an electrolyte and porous carbon electrodes containing a platinum or platinum alloy catalyst. They need only hydrogen, oxygen from the air, and water to operate. They are typically fueled with pure hydrogen supplied from storage tanks or reformers. SOFCs (Solid Oxide Fuel Cells) use a hard, non-porous ceramic compound as the electrolyte. SOFCs are around 60% efficient at converting fuel to electricity. In applications designed to capture and utilize the system’s waste heat …

Cleaning Up Methane for Cheap Hydrogen and Products

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Natural gas promoters explain that it burns much cleaner than other fossil fuels such as coal or gasoline.  What if we can turn it into a zero-pollution fuel, and get a few bonus products from it? One big dream, capturing greenhouse gases and turning them into useful, non-polluting fuels or even materials, still drives researchers to find those answers.  We have reported on several approaches to turning atmospheric carbon into carbon fiber recently, but Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is working on turning its main product, natural gas, into hydrogen, carbon fiber, and carbon nanotubes. SoCal has partnered with the startup C4-MCP with the goal of offsetting the expense of making hydrogen by selling carbon fiber and carbon nanotubes that …

Ballard and Insitu Team on Fuel Cell-Driven Drone

Dean Sigler Announcements, Fuel Cells, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Another pair of heavy-duty partners, Ballard Power Systems of Canada, normally powering city buses; and Boeing, through its subsidiary Insitu, team to create and fly viable fuel cell systems for drones.  Insitu’s ScanEagle is already a world-beater for range and endurance, but it uses an internal-combustion engine (ICE), that although frugal, is not entirely green. Green Car Congress reports, “ScanEagle is 1.55 meters (5.1 feet) in length, has a wingspan of 3.11 meters (10.2 feet) and [a] maximum takeoff weight of 22 kilograms (48.5 lbs). The UAV can fly at a maximum speed of 41.2 meters per second (80 knots), reach a ceiling of 5,944 meters (19,500 feet),”  and has flown over one million mission hours, making it a leader in …

Toyota, BMW Fahrting Around with Clean Energy

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Fahrt is German for drive, to clear things up immediately.  Both Toyota and BMW are experimenting with the cruder form of the word, though, to bring about greener, cleaner driving.  Both have bio-energy plans that use animal and even human waste to generate methane – a greenhouse gas that when burnt, combats air pollution.  Variations on the theme may someday power our aircraft. Harold Bate and a Little Prehistory This is not a new idea.  Harold Bate, a Devonshire farmer, became a counter-culture hero in the 1970s by powering his Hillman Minx sedan with manure.  Like all visionaries, Harold was a bit ahead of his time, but became well known and envied when the Arab oil embargo of that decade …

Mike Friend Talks Hybrids in Beijing

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Mike Friend spent 36 years with Boeing, rising to positions as Chief Engineer and Technology Director.  His technical and linguistics abilities helped make him a world traveler, creating the first fuel-cell powered airplane in Spain, for instance, in 2002 through 2008, when the demonstrator craft first flew.  That was the first of many hybrid designs Mike would work on, with samples of his work on display this month in Beijing.  At the E-Flight Forum, sponsored by Siemens, he held forth on single-, two-, and five-seat configurations that could benefit from hybrid power. His talk, “Hybrid electric aircraft concepts, and a rational approach to success,” explained his reasoning for being enthusiastic about hybrids and showed different ways hybrid technology could be …

The Lightest Material Encapsulated in the Sheerest

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Scientists may have come up with a process to wrap hydrogen-trapping magnesium with an atom-thick layer of graphene, setting up a scenario to store hydrogen in a weight-saving way. Hydrogen seems to be a perfect fuel, but like all perfect things, an unattainable one.  Its lightness and smallness make it hard to contain, and pressurization required to store it adds weight to its containers.  Flying since 2009, the Lange Antares DLR-H2 has been a test bed for hydrogen-fueled flight.  The DLR (Germany’s NASA) explains, “The developers selected a new, larger pressure vessel that, at 350 bar (5,076 pounds per square inch), now holds five kilograms of hydrogen to replace the previous tank in the external pod on the starboard wing, …

Cheaper Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Hydrogen would be a wonderful fuel if it were easy to get and easy to use.  It makes up 90 percent of all atoms in the universe, equal to about 75 percent of all the mass.  Hydrogen has been expensive to obtain because quite often its extraction from other matter entails using expensive catalysts such as platinum. Russia and America Team Up to Get Cheap Hydrogen Scientists from the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, working with researchers at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and in Jinan, China combined efforts to produce hydrogen using sunlight and photosensitive lipids.  We associate lipids with getting blood drawn at the clinic, and waiting patiently to see how our cholesterol and triglycerides …