Rolls-Royce Rolls a Few New Approaches

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

Rolls-Royce, famous for building engines such as the WWII Merlin that powered Spitfires, Mustangs, Mosquitos and Lancaster bombers, is engaged on three (or four) fronts currently, bringing hybrid electric transport to the skies. Hybrid Electric VTOL for Commuting Rolls is jumping into this crowded market segment with its concept for an electric VTOL (Vertical Takeoff and Landing) machine, powered by four electric motors on the wings and two on the tail.   With over 100 machines of varying configurations that might be the Uber rides of the future – according to Electric VTOL News, Rolls, normally a conservative company, is planning something a bit radical – even in this field. Rolls’ headline for this craft indicates a new direction for the …

Peter Sripol Groundloops – But Check Out Those Motors!

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

Peter Sripol is a high-energy model-airplane tester who put a twin-motor electric biplane together out of Home Depot/Lowes parts and flew it successfully.  That was a back of the envelope design that flew nonetheless. Peter did something a little more professional for his second go-round, crafting some professional-looking drawings.  Don’t look for any drawings for the earlier machine, he cautions, explaining there are none  He also wanted a pair of larger, slower turning propellers to move a large volume of air more slowly than the Rotomax 150s installed on the biplane.  He notes he’s looking for a lower kV (turns per Volt input). Peter works with Flite Test, a model airplane outfit seemingly willing to try anything.  That includes the …

Just for Openers – BlackFly

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A Seven-Year Stealth Project Opener doesn’t sound like the name of an airplane company, and BlackFly doesn’t sound like a very charming name for an airplane.  Maybe that’s how the developers of an eight-motor personal flying machine got away with it for so long. Beth Stanton, who writes wonderful articles about futuristic projects for the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Sport Aviation magazine, alerted your editor about a project that sneaked under the radar for the past seven years. The airplane looks a bit like a single-seat Vahana, Airbus’s two-seat air taxi currently under test in eastern Oregon.  Where Vahana is just beginning flight tests, BlackFly has over 12,000 aerial miles carrying a payload in 1,400 flights.  BlackFly has gone through 40,000 …

SolarStratos Damaged During Testing

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

A terse announcement from the SolarStratos project last week caused some dismay in your editor, but also gave hope that a brave project would go forward. “Payerne, July 6, 2018 – the solar stratospheric SolarStratos aircraft damaged this morning during a resistance test on Earth, in the base of the team at Payerne. No risk:” The bad news, “However, the wing was damaged and its repair will cause a delay in the team’s operational schedule,” was reminiscent of a failure of the Solar Impulse’s wing during static testing.  The break set that project back over a year but resulted in a wing that carried Solar Impulse 2 to Morocco and back, across the U. S., and finally, around the world. …

From the CRADLE to the Breakthrough  Battery

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

Hyundai, the Korean carmaker turning increasingly to electric vehicles, has teamed with Ionic Materials, a Massachusetts-based battery developer to work on an innovative solid-state battery.  Ionic’s solid polymer electrolyte technology promised to improve battery safety and performance.  Liquid electrolytes are often blamed for disastrous battery fires, so the search for a solid-state alternative is one way to counter the problem. Hyundai’s CRADLE (Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences), “corporate venturing and open innovation business,” is investing in Ionic to gain access to the company’s technology, which also supports lithium-ion cells with no cobalt in their cathodes.  Reducing or eliminating cobalt in their batteries may be a major incentive for Hyundai.  Forbes reports, “Carmakers, such as Germany’s BMW, and electronic gadget …

Equator P2 Makes First Runway Hops

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The Culmination of Eight Years’ Effort Tomas Brødreskift, his father and a dedicated team of volunteers have been working on a nearly no-budget, eight-year project to build a cutting-edge technology hybrid amphibian aircraft.  This past week, Equator P2’s wheels left the runway, twice on each of two days.  The team plans a full flight around the airport traffic pattern in the next few days. Although brief, the runway runs demonstrated the hand control’s proper operation, similar to the hands-only controls used on human-powered aircraft.  In that instance, the pilot’s legs are busy pedaling, obviating the need for manual operation only. In the Equator’s case, Tomas wanted simplified controls to make his aircraft a more desirable machine for future buyers.  He is, …

NASA Freely Shares X57 Lessons

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

NASA and several partner firms have been working on the X-57 Maxwell electric propulsion demonstrator for the past several years.  It hasn’t been as easy as it looked at first.  Encouragingly, NASA is sharing some of the hard lessons it has learned in the process, much like Elon Musk sharing many of his patents with the world. One of the hardest lessons involved the multiple battery packs, originally planned to be off-the-shelf units.  A December 2016 test resulted in a thermal runaway, a situation in which one cell that overheats can self-destruct and cause adjacent cells to follow suit.  This, as we’ve seen in Dreamliner incidents, can be dangerous and potentially deadly.  Such fires are exceedingly well reported, with any Tesla …

Three June Races Electrified

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

Every June, three races provide insight into how much electric power has become a regular part of motorsports: The Isle of Man TT Zero motorcycle race, the 24 Hours of LeMans, and the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.  This year, there were disappointments as well as triumphs, but progress nonetheless. Isle of Man TT Zero For followers of electric two-wheeling, this year’s Tourist Trophy (TT) Zero had one high moment, a record-setting run by Michael Rutter on a Team Mugen bike, which did one lap at 121.824 mph (18:34.956 for the 37.75 mile course).  Admittedly, because of the relatively low energy density of batteries to petrol, the electric bikes do a single lap compared to the six laps on the …

Safe BVLOS Operations

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Out of Sight, but Not Out of Mind Simulyze, Inc. devises data-based application, analysis, and management programs for “Large streams of data from various sources in relation to BVLOS, and visualizes all aspects of multiple flight operations in a single, customized graphical interface,” their Mission Insight application. BVLOS – Beyond Visual Line of Sight – may become the most important abbreviation in the unmanned aerial system’s (UAS’s) lexicon. It has only been a few years since a George Bye-initiated program put the Silent Falcon solar-assisted drone on missions in Canada by Silent Vectors. Those missions involved checking on the health of oil and natural gas pipelines, surveilling wildfires, and daring other far-flung forays. Obviously, having a drone beyond visual and …

Tripling Down on Cathode Capacity

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

intercalation (countable and uncountable, plural intercalations) (chemistry) The reversible insertion of a molecule between two others. Wiktionary Enyuan Hu, a chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory explains the importance, and limitations, of intercalation in battery chemistry.  “The materials normally used in lithium-ion batteries are based on intercalation chemistry. This type of chemical reaction is very efficient; however, it only transfers a single electron, so the cathode capacity is limited. Some compounds like FeF3 are capable of transferring multiple electrons through a more complex reaction mechanism, called a conversion reaction.” Iron trifluoride (FeF3) is composed of “cost-effective and environmentally benign elements — iron and fluorine.  Researchers have been interested in using chemical compounds like FeF3 in lithium-ion batteries because they offer inherently higher capacities than traditional cathode …