BioLEC – First There was Light, Then There Was Energy

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Feature image credit: Victor Tangermann Futurism  ponders, “Sugar, Light, And A New Type of Chemistry — What It May Take To Wean Us Off Fossil Fuels” in an article by Dan Robitzki.  The topic brings a new term into your editor’s vocabulary – BioLEC – Bioinspired Light Escalated Chemistry.  The goal of such chemistry is to use the energy of two photons, “the tiniest quantifiable units of light, to power chemical reactions.”  This takes us into how trees and other photosynthesizing plants use quantum theory to make things grow. Trees Have Been Doing it For Years It’s a bit odd to think of trees and quantum physics in the same sentence.  Your editor used to think of sunlight striking leaves …

Solar-Only Quadrotor in Singapore

Dean Sigler Batteries, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

In their latest adventure in derring-do, a team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) Faculty of Engineering has developed and flown Asia’s first fully solar-powered quadcopter drone.  A large framework holds the solar cells, which are the sole means of powering the craft’s four motors.  Developers have flown the big square above 10 meters in test flights and achieved controllable flight without the use of batteries. Frogworks Snowstorm This is just the latest in a series of aeronautical exploits by NUS students.  In late 2015, they unveiled their Frogworks Snowstorm, a 24-rotor person carrier powered by 2.2 kilowatt (2.94 horsepower) motors driving 76-centimeter (30-inch) propellers. New Asia reported that, “At the London edition of technology event Founders Forum this …

“StratoAirNet” Prototype Completes 1st Flight

Dean Sigler Announcements, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

George E. Bye. CEO and founder of Bye Aerospace, is on a roll these days, selling a large number of SunFlyer 2 training aircraft, delivering Silent Falcon solar electric unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), partnering in the TriFan 600 project with XTI Aircraft, and overseeing the first flight of the StratoAirNet prototype. A letter from Diane Simard, Senior Vice President of Bye Aerospace, Inc., reports “the successful completion of the first flight of the solar electric technology demonstrator prototype for its “StratoAirNet” and “Solesa” families of medium-altitude aircraft systems.”  Flying from the Northern Colorado Regional Airport, north of Loveland, the sailplane-based optionally-piloted vehicle has made additional flights since its maiden outing. Bye expressed happiness at the event and gave thanks to …

Zephyr Breaks Its Own Record – Again

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The Royal Aeronautical Society, official record keeper for such things, announced in an August 8 press release, “Taking off from Arizona, US on 11 July, Airbus Defense’s solar-powered UAV (unpiloted aerial vehicle), the British-built Zephyr S, has smashed the existing endurance record for unrefueled, unmanned flight by staying aloft for 25 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes. This, the maiden flight of the production Zephyr S HAPS (high altitude pseudo satellite) for the UK MoD (United Kingdom Ministry of Defense), once verified, almost doubles the existing endurance flight record of 14 days, 22 minutes for UAVs, set by a previous Zephyr prototype in 2010. The solar-powered Zephyr UAV, which weighs less than 75 [kilograms – 165 pounds], flies at 70,000ft, …

Funneling Light and Energy with New Materials

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Dr. Adolfo De Sanctis, a Research Fellow in the Quantum Systems and Nanomaterials group at the University of Exeter (UK), earned his Ph. D. in physics with a dissertation on “Manipulating light in two-dimensional layered materials” (Nature Communications, May 2017).  The video below gives a short-hand view of his work. Other, less scholarly outlets (like this one) give an easy-to-read view of what he has accomplished, and why his research is of interest for many applications – including energy harvesting. Green Optimistic reports, “A team of researchers from the University of Exeter developed a solar cell with a record 60% efficiency. The idea behind this breakthrough is similar to using a ‘funnel’: corralling an amorphous collection of electrical charges into …

Riding the Sunshine Highway

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Sunday, July 22 found your editor at Bend, Oregon’s High Desert Museum for the finish of the 2018 American Solar Challenge.  The race started in Omaha, Nebraska on July 14 and followed parts of the Oregon National Historic Trail and the Lewis and Clark Trail. Omaha, NE (Starting line) – July 14 Grand Island, NE (Checkpoint) – July 14 Gering, NE (Stage stop) – July 15 – 16 Casper, WY (Checkpoint) – July 16 Lander, WY (Stage stop) – July 17-18 Farson, WY (Checkpoint) – July 18 Arco, ID (Stage stop) – July 19 – 20 Mountain Home, ID (Checkpoint) – July 20 Burns, OR (Stage stop) – July 21 – 22 Bend, OR (Finish line) – July 22 Teams …

SolarStratos Damaged During Testing

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

A terse announcement from the SolarStratos project last week caused some dismay in your editor, but also gave hope that a brave project would go forward. “Payerne, July 6, 2018 – the solar stratospheric SolarStratos aircraft damaged this morning during a resistance test on Earth, in the base of the team at Payerne. No risk:” The bad news, “However, the wing was damaged and its repair will cause a delay in the team’s operational schedule,” was reminiscent of a failure of the Solar Impulse’s wing during static testing.  The break set that project back over a year but resulted in a wing that carried Solar Impulse 2 to Morocco and back, across the U. S., and finally, around the world. …

UAVOS Triplicates Tandem Flight

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Aeroelastic deformation, the reshaping of wings, tails, and even fuselages on aircraft subjected to the forces surrounding passage through the air, can be destructive, twisting and shaking aircraft surfaces.  UAVOS, a company specializing in flight controls for drones of all sizes, has created a tandem-wing, tri-tailed High-Altitude Psuedo Satellite (HAPS) called ApusDuo. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeroelasticity Wikipedia gives a long and involved discourse on aeroelasticity, but UAVOS gives a lighter, more graphic approach that shows the dangers involved, and UAVOS’ approach to conquering those perils. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=11&v=1YsloiRVEzs The firm makes three autopilots for varying sizes of aerial vehicles from those weighing less than 15 kilograms (33 pounds) to up to 1,500 kilograms (3,300 pounds).   UAVOS craft include rotary-wing vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) machines …

Sustainable Skies in San Francisco

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Hybrid Aircraft, SAS, Sky Taxis, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

I’m writing this in the first person, rather than the usual third-person voice that allows me to remain objective about things on which I report.  In this case, I have been the recipient of much joy over the last ten years from being an observer of the ongoing progress in electric aviation. Dr. Brien Seeley, founder of the Sustainable Aviation Foundation, asked me to begin writing a blog about electric aviation in 2009.  One of my original postings concerned a Kitplanes Magazine contributor, David Ullman – who was this year’s Sustainable Aviation Symposium’s keynote speaker.  In 2009, he predicted a great future for electric aviation – most of which has come to pass, and some of which he is creating …

From Anime to Low-Powered Electric Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

A team in Japan has flown a low-power electric canard motorglider, and is now building a more conventional, lightweight electric aircraft.  Members of Aircraft Olympos Ltd. on the large island of Hokaido have been instrumental in building and flying everything from a jet inspired by one of Hayoa Miyazaki’s anime productions (Nausicaa (Dove) Of The Valley Of The Wind – 1984) to some fascinating electric aircraft. Brian Carpenter met Tota Ueno, a worker on the project, and visitor at one of Brian’s maintenance classes in Corning, California.  Brian was selected by the National General Aviation Awards Committee as the recipient of the 2017 National Aviation Maintenance Technician (AMT) of the Year Award.  His classes in ultralight aircraft maintenance and two-stroke …