Solar Cells – All That Glitters Need Not Be Gold

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The search for less expensive solar cells drives many lines of research these days, with trends toward smaller collectors and less expensive materials leading the way.  Many solar cells use gold and other pricey metals to provide junctions within the cell structure.  Gold closed Friday at $1,204.00 per troy ounce on the London Metal Exchange, and nickel at $10.01 per pound.  That would make gold worth $17,558 per avoirdupois pound (14.583 troy ounces per pound), or 1,754 times more expensive than nickel.    According to Gizmag, University of Toronto investigators found that substituting nickel for the previously used gold as collection contacts in their colloidal quantum dot solar cells provided equal performance, at a 40 to 80-percent drop in solar …

LEAP Awards at WSEA

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

At the World Symposium on Electric Aircraft, AirVenture’s overview of electric aircraft progress, the morning session ended with the presentation of the LEAP (Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize) awards.  Erik Lindbergh, grandson of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh and founder of the Creative Solutions Alliance, announced the winners at the July 30 session. According to the Alliance’s press release, “LEAP is a suite of prizes that recognizes significant contributions to the development of practical electric flight, and stimulates meaningful advances in the fledgling electric aircraft industry. LEAP awarded a total of $25,000 in prize money, an amount equal to the Orteig prize that was won by Charles Lindbergh for his 1927 solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. In doing so, Charles Lindbergh …

Hanging on The Prop, Backwards

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Burt Rutan, as part of his keynote address at the World Symposium on Electric Aircraft, “’mused about electric-powered aerobatic aircraft whose reversible motors would enable them to deliver symmetric or asymmetric thrust as called for by each maneuver,’” according to the Experimental Aircraft Association’s news release by James Wynbrandt. “’Imagine an Oshkosh air show where [the planes] dive straight toward the ground and stop,’” Rutan said. ‘They’re not fantasy anymore. The RC [radio-controlled model] indoor guys are doing this. “’It’s happening. It’s easy to do.’” Video proof of Rutan’s assertion can be found on YouTube. The Electric Tournament of Champions, held at Toledo, Ohio April 3rd and 4th, 2009 drew competitors from all over the world.  As shown in the video, R. …

A New ERA For Helicopters

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Sikorsky Aircraft introduced its electric Firefly at AirVenture 2010 this week, but other ways to achieve green aviation are also showing up at Oshkosh.  Avimech International Aircraft introduced its Dragonfly tip-jet helicopter, powered by hydrogen peroxide.  Besides turning brunettes into blondes, H2O2 has propulsive qualities, often functioning as part of a rocket fuel mix.  Manufacturing cargo conversion systems for large passenger aircraft and providing aircraft support services, Tuscon, Arizona-based Avimech promotes the use of H2O2 as a green fuel, and the new helicopter as an example of “Environmentally Responsible Aviation.” Its simplicity is a major feature.  Tip jet propulsion forces fuel from the tanks flanking the pilot through rotor-tip openings, where the fuel reacts with a catalyst, spinning the rotor …

Yuneec E430’s to Top Everest

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

According to FlightGlobal.com, two Yuneec International E430’s will attempt to fly in formation over Mt. Everest next January or February.  This will be the first flight over the 29,029ft (8,848m) peak by electric aircraft, and will highlight, “The viability of electric-powered flight and Yuneec’s designs,” according to FlightGlobal, the web-based outlet for Flight International magazine.  Their report includes this video interview with Pierre Hallet, the French distributor for Yuneec, and one of the pilots slated for the expedition. According to Hallet , the only modification to the aircraft will be the addition of a DUC variable-pitch propeller, presumably to provide optimized climb in the thin atmosphere.  Aircraft will be shipped to Katmandu, where they will be assembled, then flown to a …

Sikorsky’s Project Firefly™ Electric Helicopter Demonstrator

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 0 Comments

 Sikorsky Innovations, the technology development arm of Sikorsky Aircraft, revealed last week at the Farnborough International Air show and this week at AirVenture 2010, the Firefly™ Technology Demonstration Aircraft, the first all-electric helicopter. Based on an S-300C, the electrified version replaces the original Lycoming drive train with a U.S. Hybrid power package consisting of a 200 horsepower electric motor, motor controller, and 1,100-pound lithium- battery from Gaia.  To monitor operations and “the health” of the craft, Sikorsky has installed an LCD display in the modified center console. One benefit of electrified helicopters would be the discarding of the traditional complex series of mechanical links between the main rotor power takeoff and the tail rotor.  The tail rotor on Firefly can …

Yuneec Adds to Airplane, Motor Lineup

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Shanghai-based Yuneec, already promoting a line of electric paramotors, an electric trike, the two-seat E430, unveiled at last year’s AirVenture, and a series of motor/controller/battery combinations, has added to their offerings at AirVenture 2010.  New craft include two aircraft, the Apis 2 and Viva from Martin Wezel Flugzeugtechnik, a German designer and purveyor of sailplanes and light sport aircraft.   The Apis 2 is a derivation of the Silent electric sailplane, and in this application will be powered by a Yuneec motor system.  The Viva, a two-seat motorglider, was designed originally for an HKS-700E two-cylinder engine of about 60 horsepower, and will be converted, like the Apis, to Yuneec power. Spanning 15 meters (49.2 feet), the Apis 2 has a best lift-to-drag …

Bye Energy, Cessna Move Toward the Electric 172

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

In a press release datelined Oshkosh, Wisconsin, July 26, Cessna Aircraft Company announced, “That it is collaborating with Bye Energy, Inc., an integrator of clean, alternative energy technologies for business and general aviation aircraft, to design and develop an electric propulsion system for a Cessna 172 proof of concept (POC) aircraft.”  Bye Energy is a Colorado-based aerospace company, and its CEO, George Bye, presented the Green Flight Project, his vision of the electric 172 at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium in Rohnert Park, California on April 24.  The fact that Cessna would agree to such collaboration is a significant step, and a verification of the market research Bye and his group have done.  Possibly fueled by the fuel question – where …

AirVenture 2010 World Symposium At Eagle Hangar

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

An indication of the enthusiasm people are showing for the potential of electric flight, tickets are going fast for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s 2010 World Symposium on Electric Aircraft, part of AirVenture 2010.   The WSEA will be held on Friday July 30 on the Eagle Hangar main stage. The morning session, titled, “The Dream of Flight,” runs from 9 a.m. to Noon.  The lunch session, “The Voice of Experience: Electric Aircraft Builders,” runs from Noon to1:30 p.m., and the afternoon session, “Putting Vision to Practice,” runs from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. According to the EAA, “Among the confirmed participants for the symposium are FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt; Electric Aircraft Corporation founder Randall Fishman; Yuneec founder Tian Yu; Sonex Aircraft founder John Monnett; …

Solar Cells Can Never Be Too Thin

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

AirVenture’s unofficial prize for the most popular aircraft at each year’s fly in – the brown grass award, named for the trampled turf around the much-thronged craft, had a CAFE Foundation equivalent at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium.  That would be the crumpled carpet prize for the circles around Dr. Joseph (Joe) Armstrong, Chief Technical Officer for Ascent Solar, a Thornton, Colorado-based firm.  Wearing a bandolier-like ribbon of extremely thin, flexible solar cells at the end of his talk, he was surrounded by break-takers eager to get a closer look at his impressive array of photovoltaics.  Commercial production modules of the copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) cells have been verified at an industry-high10.5-percent efficiency by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  The …