Solar Impulse Makes a Final Landing

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Bertrand Piccard closed out the over-year-long endurance test of man and machine, landing in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates, where the 17-leg journey began over a year ago. Landing at night in the glow of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, the largest mosque in the UAE, and greeted by fellow pilot Andre’ Borschberg, the project’s sponsor HSH Prince Albert of Monaco, and a large throng in western and Middle Eastern garb, the flight climaxed not only an aerial adventure, but an opportunity to share multiple cultures and teach thousands of children and youth about alternative energy and the way to a green future for all. Whether the promises made at the United Nations and at COP21 in Paris …

A Quiet Air Force Spreading Commerce and Knowledge

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

Two years ago, Mark Zuckerberg, the head of Facebook, promised a far-reaching goal for his firm. ”Today, we’re sharing some details of the work Facebook’s Connectivity Lab is doing to build drones, satellites and lasers to deliver the internet to everyone. ”Our goal with Internet.org is to make affordable access to basic internet services available to every person in the world.” We reported on this activity almost a year ago, and provided technical details that are coming to fruition with the first flight of the Aquila drone, a large flying wing that looks a great deal like the Prandtl-D research vehicle designed by Al Bowers and a group of graduate students.  A primary difference – Facebook’s machine has winglets or tip rudders …

Kreisel Brothers – Austrian Entrepreneurs

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

We keep hoping for the long-awaited 10X, or even 5X battery that would make electric aviation “pop” in a significant way.  The Kreisel brothers in Austria are not developing new batteries or chemistries, but through careful design and manufacturing techniques, manage to reduce weight in their battery packages – one example being the two “ultra-lightweight battery units” they supply for PC-Aero’s Elektra One.  With a total weight of “just 64 kilograms,” (140.8 pounds), the packs “provide [an] efficient and reliable energy supply for a range of 400 kilometers (248 miles)… a flight duration of three hours [and a] speed of 160 kilometers per hour (99.2 mph).” Each pack stores 5.8 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy, or 5.52 kw-hr./kg.  That’s roughly an …

Eric Raymond: Skyping from the Sky

Dean Sigler Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Eric Raymond and his wife Irena fly their Sunseeker Duo from the Aeroporto Voghera Rivanazzano near their home in Voghera, Italy.  The Provincia di Pavia provides wonderful architectural and scenic backdrops for their flights, something captured briefly in a video they filmed last year for Skype and Microsoft.  To Eric’s surprise, the commercial was finally released this month. The Raymonds and their collaborators are part of a larger advertising campaign for Skype and Microsoft, with their high-tech offerings complementing the wireless communications tools and the ad’s graphics. Eric and Irena, John Lynch, and Jason Rohr perform well for the cameras, but Eric had an extra challenge in the aerial filming.  “I was flying in formation with a Phantom drone!” Microsoft …

Solar Impulse Word of the Day – Penultimate

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Headlines all over the world are sharing the word of the day – penultimate, meaning the next to the last* – in this case the next to last flight for Solar Impulse 2. The Guardian newspaper explained, “After setting off from Seville on Monday morning, the plane passed through Algerian, Tunisian, Italian and Greek airspace, and flew over the Giza Pyramids before touching down at Cairo airport at around 7.10am (5.10am GMT). Its support crew cheered as the plane, no heavier than a car but with the wingspan of a Boeing 747, landed, and trailed after it on bicycles.” Which brings up a question – why are the guys on foot outrunning the guys on the expensive electric bicycles? Certainly, …

Alta Devices – From UAVs to Hanergy Solar Powered Cars

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Alta Devices has been trading places with the National Renewable Energy Laboratories (NREL) in holding world record efficiencies for single- and dual-junction solar cells at one sun (not concentrated).  Their gallium-arsenide technology includes a layer of indium gallium phosphide (InGaPh), which the firm says utilizes photons more efficiently. According to Alta Devices, “Alta has achieved this breakthrough by modifying its basic ‘single-junction’ gallium arsenide (GaAs) material. The company’s dual junction technology builds on the basic GaAs approach, but implements a second junction (or layer) with Indium Gallium Phosphide (InGaP). Because InGaP uses high-energy photons more efficiently, the new dual-junction cell generates more electricity from the same amount of light than a single-junction device. With this breakthrough, Alta currently holds both …

Boeing Adds Solar Winglets to Its Solar High-Flyer

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Despite having a wing, horizontal tail, and fuselage top full of solar cells, Solar Impulse 2 needs long days and short nights to make it through the dark periods between recharging.  Even Eric and Irena Raymond’s SunSeeker Duo, a more practical machine, performs only day-long flights so far. Part of this is the nature of sunlight and solar cells, both of which are limited in small areas.  Despite the fact that every hour, each square meter of the upper atmosphere receives 1.367kWh of solar energy, and National Geographic claims that “Every hour the sun beams onto Earth more than enough energy to satisfy global energy needs for an entire year,” it’s hard to harness that energy on a relatively small …

Clearing up the Origin of One Airplane

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

The following press release was distributed by Dr. Birgit Weißenbach, wife of Calin Gologan and press representative for PC-Aero GmbH: “Many press releases and articles were published in the whole world relating the Aircraft flown by Luminati Aerospace LLC in NY named Substrata V0 and the Solar Electric airplane from PC-Aero/Elektra UAS named Elektra One Solar. “In order to avoid misunderstandings PC-Aero/Elektra UAS GmbH publish[es] the following press release: “In October 2015 PC-Aero/Elektra UAS, the designer and manufacturer of the electric-solar airplane Elektra One Solar, and Luminati Aerospace signed a Manufacturing License Agreement for ONE UNIT aircraft based on the Elektra One Solar documentation provided by PC-Aero/Elektra UAS. PC-Aero/Elektra UAS also provided [a] ONE UNIT manufacturing license agreement to CarbonWacker GmbH …

Solar Impulse 2 Gets a Jet Escort

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Following a fairly non-eventful crossing of the Atlantic, Bertrand Piccard was greeted by a welcoming formation of Casa C-101 Aviojets, Spain’s Patrulla Águila flight demonstration team. After three days and nights in the air, Piccard landed in the Spanish sunrise, also finalizing efforts to establish the International Committee of Clean Technology (ICCT), whose goal is to continue Solar Impulse’s legacy, “promoting concrete energy efficient solutions in order to solve many of the challenges facing society today.” While “Until recently, protecting the environment was expensive and threatened our society’s comfort, mobility and growth. Today, thanks to modern clean technologies, the energy consumption of the world, and therefore the C02 emissions, could be divided by two, while creating jobs and enhancing profits. …

Elektra One Solar or Luminati VO-Substrata?

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Your editor saw a news item from Sun ‘n Fun about a new solar-powered airplane and recognized the design as one from Calin Gologan’s PC-Aero, an aircraft design and consulting firm in Germany. General Aviation News credited the airplane’s design and construction to Luminati Aerospace in New York state.   The story did not mention Gologan’s involvement, though, a possible oversight.  An alert reader commented on the similarity of the airplane to the Elektra One Solar. A few months later, your editor saw an Associated Press story from Calverton, New York, which explained, “Pilot Robert Lutz flew the VO-Substrata aircraft for about 20 minutes in the first test flight opened to the public. The white aircraft features wing-mounted solar cells and has a wingspan …