CES 2018 – Intel Inside and Then Some

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Brian Krzanich, Intel’s CEO, took a ride in the Volocopter 2X, becoming the first human passenger on an autonomous flight of the vehicle.  The ride took place in a large enclosed space somewhere in Munich, Germany, on December 3, 2017. An Historical Sidebar It looks a little like Hanna Reitsch’s helicopter flight under the roof of the Deutschlandhalle in Berlin in 1938, a feat she repeated daily during the three-week International Automobile Exhibition.  She later test flew an early V-1 “Buzz Bomb,” her small size adaptable to the craft.  Volocopter’s 2X requires far fewer flying skills, CEO Florian Reuter claiming a five-year-old can control the 2X. Not a Flying Car Sean O’Kane, enthusiastically reporting on the 2X for The Verge, …

Book Your Perth Alpha Electro Flights for the Early Morning

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Two Things That May Not Seem Related at First Recent news that Penrith, Australia was the hottest place on earth was underlined by videos of melting highways.  Penrith, a suburb of Sydney, reached 47.3° C (117° F), enough to turn asphalt into a sticky mess and force drivers onto less gummy shoulders. Although over 2,400 miles away, Perth, home to Joshua Portlock’s Electro.Aero flying service, is at roughly the same latitude, and experienced near-record heat this month.  Possibly, that accounts for the all-caps caution for prospective flyers: “WE RECOMMEND EARLY MORNING FLIGHTS IN SUMMER FOR THE SMOOTHEST CONDITIONS.” Joshua’s company took delivery of a Pipistrel Alpha Electro, and flew it on January 2, a first in Australian aviation.  He and …

Cleaning Up Methane for Cheap Hydrogen and Products

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Natural gas promoters explain that it burns much cleaner than other fossil fuels such as coal or gasoline.  What if we can turn it into a zero-pollution fuel, and get a few bonus products from it? One big dream, capturing greenhouse gases and turning them into useful, non-polluting fuels or even materials, still drives researchers to find those answers.  We have reported on several approaches to turning atmospheric carbon into carbon fiber recently, but Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) is working on turning its main product, natural gas, into hydrogen, carbon fiber, and carbon nanotubes. SoCal has partnered with the startup C4-MCP with the goal of offsetting the expense of making hydrogen by selling carbon fiber and carbon nanotubes that …

China Updates, Increases Range for RX1E-A

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

China Global Television Network, or CGTN, reports on an updated version of an electric airplane that first took flight in 2015.  The original RX1E could fly for 45 minutes on its battery pack, limiting its utility.  The RX1E-A’s six lithium battery packs can keep the new machine in the air for up to two hours and achieve a maximum speed of 160 kilometers per hour (99.4 mph).  This type of performance makes it more suitable for training and cross-country flights. Similar to a long-winged version of Pipistrel’s Alpha Electro Trainer, soon to be produced in China, the RX1E-A grosses out at 600 kilograms (1,320 pounds), suitable for most Light Sport Aircraft regulations.  It will be interesting to see if production …

Earth, Air, Water and Jet Fire

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams.” Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince The SOLAR-JET project (Solar chemical reactor demonstration and Optimization for Long-term Availability of Renewable JET fuel. or SOLAR-JET) pulls carbon dioxide from the air, mixes it with water and exposes the mix to 1,500 degree (Centigrade) concentrated solar energy and makes a synthetic natural gas, with oxygen as the only exhaust.  Attempting to produce a useable fuel from CO2 has been an obsession for many over several decades.  Attempts to capture and store CO2 are expensive and usually only hide the carbon, ostensibly for eternity. SOLAR-JET explains its objectives …

Too Late for Boxing Day*, Ehang Delivers the Goods

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

Broadcast live on December 24, this demonstration of the eHang 184 is, interestingly, an English-language presentation, with a lot of English names floating about. Someone named Mike shows off the Ehang 184 in this Christmas-related special.  His friend Miranda snugs herself into the compact passenger compartment, tries on the safety harnesses, and deplanes before committing aviation.  The video is a sales pitch for the drone manufacturer – actually more of a long wind-up before a pitch into the air.  Mike takes us through a tutorial on the craft, which seats one passenger and has eight propellers that are mounted on four arms (one-eight-four, or 184). The rather ungainly entrance and exit of the petite young woman suggests possible improvements eHang’s designers …

Ballard and Insitu Team on Fuel Cell-Driven Drone

Dean Sigler Announcements, Fuel Cells, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Another pair of heavy-duty partners, Ballard Power Systems of Canada, normally powering city buses; and Boeing, through its subsidiary Insitu, team to create and fly viable fuel cell systems for drones.  Insitu’s ScanEagle is already a world-beater for range and endurance, but it uses an internal-combustion engine (ICE), that although frugal, is not entirely green. Green Car Congress reports, “ScanEagle is 1.55 meters (5.1 feet) in length, has a wingspan of 3.11 meters (10.2 feet) and [a] maximum takeoff weight of 22 kilograms (48.5 lbs). The UAV can fly at a maximum speed of 41.2 meters per second (80 knots), reach a ceiling of 5,944 meters (19,500 feet),”  and has flown over one million mission hours, making it a leader in …

Airbus, Williams Team to Expand Zephyr Program

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

What’s the HAPS, Guys? Airbus and Williams Advanced Engineering, two heavy hitters with the world’s largest commercial airliner and the world’s fastest formula electric cars, are collaborating on making a light, slow airplane stay up indefinitely.  Their memorandum of understanding (MOU) seeks to integrate Williams’ demonstrated abilities with “ultra-lightweight materials, battery technologies and electrical cell chemistries… in… Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) program.” Airbus Defense and Space has worked with Sion Power Corporation since 2015 to use Sion’s proprietary lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) batteries for use in Airbus’ Zephyr aircraft.  The current Zephyr S is the latest iteration of a series of solar-powered, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that will fly at 65,000 feet for months at a time. High Over Dubai …

Toyota, BMW Fahrting Around with Clean Energy

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Fahrt is German for drive, to clear things up immediately.  Both Toyota and BMW are experimenting with the cruder form of the word, though, to bring about greener, cleaner driving.  Both have bio-energy plans that use animal and even human waste to generate methane – a greenhouse gas that when burnt, combats air pollution.  Variations on the theme may someday power our aircraft. Harold Bate and a Little Prehistory This is not a new idea.  Harold Bate, a Devonshire farmer, became a counter-culture hero in the 1970s by powering his Hillman Minx sedan with manure.  Like all visionaries, Harold was a bit ahead of his time, but became well known and envied when the Arab oil embargo of that decade …

Three-in-One Device Stores Energy, Makes Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Batteries, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

UCLA researchers Richard Kaner and Maher El-Kady, “Have designed a device that can use solar energy to inexpensively and efficiently create and store energy, which could be used to power electronic devices, and to create hydrogen fuel for eco-friendly cars.”  Kaner and El-Kady have devised many low-budget approaches to capturing and exploiting energy, such as their method of “burning” supercapacitors on a personal computer DVD.  Their newest accomplishment, according to Kaner, “Could dramatically lower the cost of hydrogen cars.” It would be useful in urban or rural areas, or even on remote battlefields, giving users the ability to make both electricity and fuel from the same device. In cities, it could store surplus energy from electrical grids, and in more …