The Second SmartFlyer Challenge 2018

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Grenchen Airport in Switzerland held the second SmartFlyer Challenge on September 1st and 2nd, with a good showing for the European – and especially the Czech electric aircraft industry.  Although smaller in numbers of airplanes than last year’s premier event, the Challenge featured a series of top-drawer presentations by industry leaders, and the viewing of a new Czechoslovokian electric motorglider. A Distinguished Visitor Interest in the event is high in the Canton of Solothurn, the administrative region in which Grenchen resides.  The head of the Department of Economics for the Canton, Brigit Wyss, reported on the event in her personal blog.  She proclaimed, “Grenchen establishes itself as the European center of electric aviation. The Smartflyer Challenge, which was a novelty a …

Print ‘Em and Stick ‘Em Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

University of Newcastle (UON) researchers may have achieved a breakthrough in creating solar cells on flexible plastic made in a roll-to-roll process with an unbelievably low price and equally incredible sensitivity.  They seem to have succeeded where an American firm failed half a decade ago. Printed solar cells were first attempted about a decade ago, with Konarka trying to make solar cells on simple ink-jet printers.  The company failed, despite having a Nobel Prize winner and other top physicist and chemists overseeing the process.  The “cells” never achieved more than about four- or five-percent efficiency and their plastic substrate deteriorated rapidly. Today, The University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, and CHEP, a client firm, are displaying their thin-cell, …

Elektra Solar Launches HALE with Autonomous Control

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

Dr. Birgit Weißenbach of Elektra Solar GmbH and PC-Aero announced “The world’s strongest multifunctional solar-electric HALE aerial vehicle – the Elektra Two Solar: [with] “Take-off, flight and tough-down” successfully completed with [its] own autopilot system We usually think of HALE (High Altitude Long Endurance) aircraft as being huge, sun-eclipsing things like AeroVironment’s flying wings or Boeing’s Phantom Eye.  These require large support systems and ground crews, much like the team that chased Solar Impulse around the world. Elektra Solar GmbH, a joint venture combining PC-Aero GmbH and Elektra UAS GmbH, uses aircraft designed by Calin Gologen, head of PC-Aero, and computer technology from Dr. Ing. Habil. Konstantin Kondak.  Since October, 2009 he headed a key research area, Flying Robots at …

BioLEC – First There was Light, Then There Was Energy

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

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 photos, “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 0 Comments

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 …

Solid-State Progress at the University of Michigan

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Battery breakthrough: Doubling performance with lithium metal that doesn’t catch fire Longer-lasting drop-in replacements for lithium ion could be on the horizon These two headlines top a report by Angela Wegrecki from the University of Michigan’s News Service, and despite their hopeful vibes, may even elicit yawns.  We see similar claims regularly, accompanied by promises of a five-year wait for the production models to begin rolling off the line. Most batteries are developed by researchers working with small budgets and small facilities.  Thomas Edison had 40 assistants working with him to test the 1,600 different filaments tried before hitting on a carbonized sewing thread that gave the light he was seeking.  The University of Michigan has 2,700 square feet and …

“StratoAirNet” Prototype Completes 1st Flight

Dean Sigler Announcements, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

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 …

Liquid Batteries for Aircraft?

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

NASA is investigating “the integration of nanoelectrofuel (NEF) flow batteries with rim-driven electric motors to produce a safe, clean and quiet propulsion system for aircraft,” according to Aviation Week. That is the promise of an early-stage rechargeable liquid battery technology under investigation by NASA. The agency is researching the integration of NEF flow batteries with rim-driven electric motors to produce a safe, clean and quiet propulsion system for aircraft.  The rim-driven motors are used on boats as thrusters, and may have applications on small unmanned aircraft, although researchers have seen disappointing results so far. Tying these motors to more promising research into” non-explosive energy storage technology” is part of NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center’s Aqueous Quick-Charging Battery Integration for Flight …

VerdeGo’s Integrated Distributed Power System

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Erik Lindbergh, grandson of the famed trans-Atlantic flight pioneer, has been paying his dues in aviation for decades, working to involve young people in career-building roles, and advocating for “green” aviation.  His latest roles have found him mentoring a group of Embry Riddle students in developing an electric HK-36 (shown last year at AirVenture), and in developing one of the over 100 electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) potential sky taxis coming into public view.  That sky taxi may not make it to market, but Lindbergh and partners’ Integrated Distributed Power system is headed that way. At the 2017 AirVenture, he shared the news that he was working on something exciting.  That turned out to be the VerdeGo project, an …

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 …