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

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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

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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 …

ONERA’s AMPERE Flies on Distributed Electric Thrust

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

ONERA’s mission statement for its AMPERE (Avion à Motorisation réPartie Électrique de Recherche Expérimentale) electric aircraft is fairly straightforward.  “AMPERE is a demonstrator of a regional airplane with electric propulsion distributed, allowing to transport from 4 to 6 people over 500 [kilometers – 310 miles] in 2 hours.  The objective of the AMPERE project is to bring to maturity the technology of distributed electric propulsion in order to transfer it to the industry.”  ONERA, the Office National d’Etudes et de Recherches Aérospatiales (National Office for the Study and Research of Aerospace) is the French equivalent of NASA. ONERA showed a one-fifth-scale model of AMPERE at the Paris Air Show last week, with spokesman and designer Jean Hermetz holding forth on …

Long Hours of Droning On

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

Several different organizations are trying different ways to keep unmanned aerial vehicles, UAVs, up longer.  We’ll look at three recent efforts in long-endurance missions, each with a unique technological approach. Wirth Research – Hydrogen Fuel Cell Wirth Research is now constructing a new tilt rotor, Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL), hydrogen fuel cell powered, advanced terrain-mapping drone.  Carrying a payload of sensors and onboard data processing capabilities, the vehicle will be powered by a complete H2 storage, control and power system provided by HES of Singapore, a specialist in ultra-light hydrogen fuel cells. The Wirth machine’s missions range from precision agriculture, to pipeline and cable inspection for utilities, surveillance and other security-related tasks, through to detection and monitoring support …