One step to Liquid Hydrocarbon Fuels from Thin Air

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

University of Texas at Arlington chemists and engineers have converted carbon dioxide and water directly into useable liquid hydrocarbon fuels – in one step.  The “simple and inexpensive new sustainable fuels technology” used concentrated sunlight, high pressure and heat to remove CO2 from the air and even revert oxygen back into the system. Researchers demonstrated that a one-step conversion of carbon dioxide and water into liquid hydrocarbons and oxygen can be performed in a photothermochemical flow reactor operating at 180 to 200 degrees C and pressures up to six atmospheres. Brian Dennis, UTA professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering and co-principal investigator of the project, explains, “We are the first to use both light and heat to synthesize liquid hydrocarbons in a …

Thin Film Solar Film Hits New Highs

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Imagine covering your electric airplane with a light-collecting, energetic coating that generates enough juice to extend the battery-only range of your electric airplane.  That possibility comes to mind from seeing recent articles about Heliatek’s organic solar cells, which demonstrated a solar-collecting efficiency of 13.2 percent. That’s only about one-third of what the best silicon solar cells can do, but those tend to be relatively thick, heavy, and brittle.  Heliatek has managed to make a six-layer thin-film cell in which the active layers are only 250 nanometers (0.00000984252 inches) thick.   Sandwiched within protective layers and weighing less than a kilogram per square meter (a few ounces per square foot) HeliaFilm™ can be wrapped around a radius of 10 centimeters (just under …

Pollutants into Clean Energy: Batteries into Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Editor’s Note: We will tackle some larger contexts for the blog, including not only the aeronautical uses of clean energy but the social, environmental and even economic implications of sustainable aviation.  This item appeals because it demonstrates the possibility of transforming materials otherwise hard to live with into products that enhance life and even give some hope for budget solar cells.  Angela Belcher has made battteries from viruses and works with biological solutions to energy production.  In this instance, she and her colleagues have shown a path to a sunnier future for all.  Her work combining quantum physics and biology in the example below highlights the potential in a true paradigm shift. Another, less exotic but no less exciting instance shows …

A Solar-Algae Hybrid for an Atlantic Crossing

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Henri Mignet was never quite able to master an airplane with three-axis controls, and built at least seven flawed attempts at simplified controlled flight. His seminal try, the HM-8 Pou de Ciel (literally, Louse of the Sky, or more familiarly, Flying Flea) became first a matter of celebration for amateur aviators and then a cause of scandal, being banned in Britain following a series of fatal crashes. The “formula”, as proponents called Mignet’s tandem wing configuration, was sorted out after wind tunnel tests in England and America uncovered the flaw that caused the craft to pitch down in an unrecoverable dive. (For a well-illustrated history of Mignet’s design, see Henri Mignet and his Flying Fleas by Ken Ellis and Geoff …

Green Aviation at COP21

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power 0 Comments

COP21, the Congress of Parties 21 – the 21st gathering of nations and organizations working toward an agreement on reducing greenhouse gases, has concluded with what many conclude to be a historic turn from fossil fuels to cleaner, greener means of powering the world’s economy.  At a gala “SolutionsCOP21 – Celebrate the Champions Night” at the Grand Palais on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, leaders in demonstrating clean energy solutions were honored and awarded. Globe-straddling solar aviation and electric commuter helicopters showed a few of the environmentally conscientious directions aviation has taken and in which sustainable flight can take flight in the near future. Eraole, Mignet’s Formula Redefined Eraole, with its first motor run at COP21, is a tandem-winged cruiser that …

Solar Impulse Down, But Not Out

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

Following its cliff-hangar five-day flight from Nagoya, Japan to Kalaeloa Airport, Hawaii, Solar Impulse is undergoing an extended period of tender loving care, dedicated rebuilding of its battery packs and insightful reflection on how to avoid future issues. Landing July 3, 2015, Pilot André Borschberg broke the world records for distance along a course (6,825.4 kilometers – 4,231.5 miles), Straight distance, and Duration for solar aviation, as well as the world record for the longest solo flight ever (80 hours and 5,663 km. – 3,511 miles), according to the Solar Impulse web site. If all had gone according to plan, Bertrand Piccard would have hopped on board a few days later and headed for the United States on the second leg of the …

Second Sunseeker Duo Calendar Here

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Eric Raymond, designer and builder of three solar-powered aircraft, along with his wife Irena, take some pretty astonishing pictures.  They work from a unique aerial platform, the Sunseeker Duo they completed and now fly together.  Their travels and adventures are large-screen worthy, and they share them with their 2016 Calendar.  Eric explains. Dear Solar Flight and glider fans, We had the most amazing year ever flying the SUNSEEKER DUO here in Europe and we would love to share the vistas with you! Just now we are finishing our photo calendar in time for Christmas, and offering it for anyone’s gift to a pilot or themselves. Since our flight in the SUNSEEKER DUO to the Swiss Alps was very successful and …

More Powerful, Longer Lasting Perovskites

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Perovskites, calcium titanium oxide minerals composed of calcium titanate, with the chemical formula CaTiO, are found in relative abundance throughout the world and have  characteristics that make them a plausible candidate for use in solar cells. Initially showing good efficiency at small scales, perovskite solar cells were potentially less expensive to produce than conventional silicon-based units, and could be more efficient, especially as single-layer silicon cells reach their theoretical limit of 30-percent efficiency.  Perovskite cells could be configured to respond to different wavelengths of light, stacked on one another, and still be thinner than conventional solar cells. Part of the attraction of perovskites cells has been their rapid increase in efficiency, nearly equaling the best silicon cells in about six years, as opposed to the 35 …

Traversing Australia on Sunshine

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Solar Power 0 Comments

Australia supplies 3,000 kilometers (1,860 miles) of smooth road and abundant sunshine every year for the Bridgestone World Solar Challenge that bisects the country north to south.  Growing in numbers annually, this year’s five-day race drew 47 teams from 25 countries, with two teams from the Netherlands,  one from the University of Michigan in the United States and one from Tokai University in Japan trading the lead almost daily and battling it out for the first four places in the Challenger Class with daily consistency. University of Delft students had their second win in two years, while rivals from the University of Twente (the Netherlands) achieved a very strong second place overall.  The University of Michigan’s team was a consistent third-place …