Solar Impulse – the Movie

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse’s first flight was recorded and edited in fine style, which we share here, courtesy of the Solar Impulse project and YouTube. Note the apparent crosswind on landing, and Marcus Scherdel’s masterful handling of it. Note also that both outboard motors are shut down during the landing. A mere zephyr has a large effect on this beautiful, large, extremely slow craft. As the project’s backers note, the airplane has the size of an Airbus, the weight of a compact car, and the power of a scooter.

An Hour and 27 Minutes in the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The press release and pictures tell a beautiful story.  The CAFE Foundation offers its congratulations to the Solar Impulse team. This morning (April 7, 2010) at 10:27, the Solar Impulse HB-SIA took off from Payerne (VD) airfield on its maiden flight. Under the eyes of thousands of spectators from all over Switzerland, Solar Impulse HB-SIA slowly climbed up to 1200 meters. The next 87 minutes Solar Impulse test pilot Markus Scherdel spent familiarizing himself with the prototype’s flight behaviour and performing the initial flight exercises before making the first landing on the Vaudois tarmac. The execution of these various manoeuvres (turns, simulating the approach phase) was designed to get a feel for the aircraft and verify its controllability. “This first flight was …

Biofuels, But at What Cost?

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Jasmine Green, writing in Care2 Causes.com (“The future of Biodiesel Fuels“) , explains that all is not as it seems in the quest for clean fuel alternatives. Many of the biofuel plants noted in this blog (see “EQ2 Has a High Fuel IQ”, February 11, 2010) are indeed being grown and are producing oil for fuel, but, as reported in Care2 Causes, at a cost to the overall environment. Citing Treehugger.com, she notes that Brazil is seeing ranchers being displaced to make way for the planting of oil-bearing plants, and that ranchers move further into the rain forest and deforest the area to raise cattle. This indirect deforestation contributes, according to Ms. Green, to 41 to 59 percent of all …

The Future is Electric, and Attracting Attention

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 0 Comments

FlightGlobal.com, the online version of Flight International Magazine, has an overview of the electric aircraft scene in its April 6, 2010 release.   Among the many producers and proponents of electric flight noted in the article, Dr. Brien Seeley of the CAFE Foundation is quoted extensively, as is Calin Gologan of PC-Aero in Germany, both to present at the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, at Rohnert Park, California on April 23 and 24.  The article ponders the hopes of two hybrid electric aircraft powerplant developers, George Bye, featured in a February 21 entry in this blog, and Flight Design’s Oliver Reinhardt, the firm’s technical director.  Both face the issue of retrofitting existing light planes with their new engines, and the challenge …

Shaping Plastics into Inexpensive Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 0 Comments

Dr. Yeuh-Lin Loo, an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering, has led a team of Princeton, University of Texas – Austin, Pennsylvania State University, University of California – Santa Barbara, and Dupont researchers in developing a conductive plastic that takes the place of expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) used in solar cells, flat-screen TVs, and other electronic devices with display screens.  ITO, a byproduct of mining, is rare and expensive, but a necessity in today’s electronics.  An inexpensive substitute would be desirable in bringing costs down and removing pressure from the growing demand for ITO.  Loo comments on this in the Princeton press release.  “The cost of indium tin oxide is skyrocketing.  To bring down the costs of plastic solar cells, …

Silicon Alloy Anode Yields 30-Percent More Capacity

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Just for notebook computers now, enough of these -as in the over 6,000 such cells that propel a Tesla, could have a profound short-term effect on our hopes for electric flight. The 18650 (18 mm in diameter, 65 mm long) cells by Panasonic are the first to offer a silicon alloy anode, a commercial verification of the research Drs. Cui and Cho have been performing. Panasonic promises 4.0 Amp hours capacity, almost 30-percent more than current lithium cells of the same size. This allows a notebook battery pack almost half the size of one using graphite anode cells. The good news is balanced by the fact that the Si-based cell, at 54 grams each, weighs 10 grams more than the …

Give Up Smoking Today, Get Better Mileage

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Critics of biofuels often cite the contrary use of foodstocks for producing ethanol, for instance, as a process that will lead to food shortages, and consequently higher prices for fuel and food. One researcher and his graduate students are investigating a way to convert waste such as orange peels and old newspapers, and social and health irritants such as tobacco plants, and turn them into a cheap, clean fuel. Dr. Henry Daniell is head of the Biotechnology Graduate Program forthe Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. His primary fields of research include developing low-cost methods of delivering pharmaceuticals to patients in need and even vaccines to combat terrorist bioweapons. Involvement with plant-based …

Bye Energy’s Green Flight Project

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 5 Comments

In his presentation at AirVenture 2009, George Bye, CEO of Bye Energy, set forth some ambitious goals for his company. This included the development of a hybrid electric power system for light aircraft (under 250 horsepower) with target markets for general aviation and experimental homebuilt aircraft. Bye explained that light, powerful electric motors and Lithium-ion batteries have achieved a mature technology level that makes this an ideal time to enter this new market. On February 18, Bye introduced the proof of concept systems that will enable him to achieve this.   The Green Flight Project consists, in its first phase, of an electric motor based on the UQM 125, a 90-pound, 95-percent efficient unit that puts out up to 168 horsepower (output …

Registration Now Open for EAS IV

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized 0 Comments

Registration for the Fourth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS IV) is now open.  Intense interest in this year’s excellent program, with experts from around the world providing the latest in design, technology, and real-world examples of electric flight, has produced an added benefit for this year’s attendees.   Formal presentations are only one means of exploring a wealth of information at this year’s Symposium.  The CAFE Foundation, hard-pressed to include all presenters, has scheduled Theme Dinners – an opportunity to hear short, thought-provoking presentations and enjoy lively discussions with the faculty, all accompanied by the great food and fine wines for which the Sonoma Valley is renowned.   This expanded program has already drawn an overflow of presenters.  We anticipate a similar high level of interest from …

EQ² Has a High Fuel IQ

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

EQ² offers analysis services for clients around the world, their web site introduction citing their goals. “EQ² is a leader in sustainability risk management and environmental inventory systems using accurate environmental measurement and management processes to quantify, benchmark and report an organisation’s risks in regulatory compliance, operational impacts and financial costs.” Among their clients are airlines seeking advice on long-term prospects for alternatives to rapidly-diminishing fossil-derived jet fuels.  Their white paper,  Sustainable Flying: Biofuels as an Economic and Environmental Salve for the Airline Industry, besides having a provocative title, gives some hope for future development of these alternatives. One part of the paper explores the development money put into biofuels and finds that it tracks the rising and falling costs of …