Pipistrel leads MAHEPA – European hybrid research

Dean Sigler Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Aviation Week’s Graham Warwick reports, “Europe plans to develop and test modular hybrid-electric propulsion technology using light aircraft as testbeds, but it is also studying whether the system can be scaled up to power 19- and 70-seat commercial aircraft.  The MAHEPA Program intends to bring cleaner skies to Europe. Pipistrel, the Slovenian winner of NASA’s Green Flight Challenge in 2011, leads the 9 million euro ($10.4 million) program.  Modular Hybrid Electric Propulsion Architecture (MAHEPA), funded as part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research program, will use real flight data to recommend how to reduce aviation carbon emissions 70-percent by 2050. Pipistrel will supply two well-tested aircraft for HAHEPA’s continued investigation of lowering emissions and expanding performance capabilities.  First, its …

The Coming Golden Age of Electric Air Races?

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

An Electric Great Air Race 100 years ago, a great air race – “The Great Air Race” – in fact, was held with competitors flying from Great Britain to the Northern Territories of Australia.  Crews had 30 days to make the trip, and considering the reliability of engines at that time and the primitive nature of aerial navigation, very little time to relax. Of the six teams that entered, only two made it, three crashing (two fatally) and a fourth team being imprisoned in Yugoslavia as suspected Bolsheviks.  Only two teams finished, and only one received the 10,000 Pound Sterling prize (about 544,577 pounds today – over $775,000), enough to cause the six crews to accept the high risk  involved. …

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 …

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 …

Three-in-One Device Stores Energy, Makes Hydrogen

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

UCLA researchers Richard Kaner and Maher El-Kady, “Have designed a device that can use solar energy to inexpensively and efficiently create and store energy, which could be used to power electronic devices, and to create hydrogen fuel for eco-friendly cars.”  Kaner and El-Kady have devised many low-budget approaches to capturing and exploiting energy, such as their method of “burning” supercapacitors on a personal computer DVD.  Their newest accomplishment, according to Kaner, “Could dramatically lower the cost of hydrogen cars.” It would be useful in urban or rural areas, or even on remote battlefields, giving users the ability to make both electricity and fuel from the same device. In cities, it could store surplus energy from electrical grids, and in more …

Jeff Engler’s Wright Aero Leaps Into Green Flight

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Partnering with easyJet, a UK-based budget airline, to build an electric airliner capable of carrying 150 passengers on sub-two-hour flights, Wright Aero will substitute electrons for liquid fuel on one-fifth of EasyJet’s trips.  Finding a ready collaborator in easyJet’s Carolyn McCall, Engler has a partner who is already making inroads into making jet flight cleaner.  “’We can envisage a future without jet fuel and we are excited to be part of it. It is now more a matter of when not if a short haul electric plane will fly,’ said EasyJet CEO McCall,” in an interview with The Guardian. Engler added, in his latest Wright Weport: “First, the context is on Wednesday easyJet announced a partnership with us during their Innovation …

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, …

Instant Hydrogen?

Dean Sigler Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Researchers at the U. S. Army’s Research Laboratory at the Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, announced what they call a “groundbreaking discovery – an aluminum nanomaterial they designed produces high amounts of energy when it comes in contact with water, or with any liquid containing water.” Reportedly “during routine materials experimentation,” the team observed a bubbling reaction when they added water to a nano-galvanic aluminum-based powder.  The rapid and spontaneous hydrolysis of water did not require a catalyst came as a surprise to the researchers. Scott Grendahl, a materials engineer and team leader, explained, “The hydrogen that is given off can be used as a fuel in a fuel cell.”  Unlike most water splitting, this is a one-step process, adding water …

Full-Spectrum Solar-Generated Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Osaka University researchers have created a new material based on gold and black phosphorus to produce clean hydrogen fuel using the full spectrum of sunlight.  Most solar apparatus used in “water splitting” rely on materials such as titanium dioxide.  These are limited to obtaining energy from the ultraviolet (UV) part of the solar spectrum, however.  The rest of the spectrum is wasted. Osaka’s team “developed a material to harvest a broader spectrum of sunlight,” using a three-part composite.  The different parts maximize absorption of light and enhance the efficiency of the unit for water splitting.  The core, a “traditional” semiconductor of lanthanum titanium oxide (LTO) is coated with tiny nanoparticle specks of gold.  The gold-covered LTO is then mixed with …

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 …