Ammonia + Light = Hydrogen

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

Hydrogen continues on its course of always being five to ten years away as a cheap, viable storage mechanism for energy.  The ideal of driving a car that emits only water vapor (or flying an airplane that zooms about on a few pounds of H2) seems like an ever-distant dream. Tina Casey, writing for Gas2.com reports on Rice University solution using stinky ammonia that might clear the air for hydrogen, though.  She explains that the October 8th celebration of the fourth annual Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day was great for natural gas stakeholders, since the gas is the primary source today for hydrogen.  Her headline indicates this could become a leading way to store and extract H2: “Forget the Hydrogen …

HES Element One Could Fly Four 5,000 Kilometers

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sky Taxis, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Horizon Energy Systems (HES), originally based in Singapore, has pursued lightweight hydrogen propulsion systems for the last 12 years, primarily for amall drones.  Going larger, the company announced plans today for Element One, “the world’s first regional hydrogen-electric passenger aircraft.” A four-passenger, 14-motored (!) monoplane, Element One will carry the lucky foursome 500 to 5,000 kilometers (310 to 3,100 statute miles).  This distributed power system claims “virtually no change to its current drone-scale systems,” which is a little puzzling, considering the largest of such systems produces no more than 1,000 Watts.  The scale of the Element One and its power packs is ambiguous, with illustrations showing a nine-axle trailer with attached solar panels ostensibly powering the on-site production of H2. …

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 …