ElectraFlyer’s Near Future Plans

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 3 Comments

ElectraFlyer’s Randall Fishman and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University were the lone inhabitants with aircraft on hand at the “green aviation” display at Sun n’ Fun, exhibiting the modified Stemme and the ElectraFlyer “C” respectively.  Having been within a few displays’ distance from the Thursday tornado that destroyed 69 aircraft, damaged many others, and dismantled marquees all around, they were probably fortunate to be there at all. Having decided to leave his two-seat ElectaFlyer X back at the shop, Randall had his four-year-old ElectraFlyer on hand, an airplane which hides what he describes as the only currently available electric motor, controller, instrumentation, custom propeller hub, and battery package in its neatly cowled nose, and which has been available for years before …

Are Ultracapacitors Ready for Prime Time?

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 1 Comment

A January 3 article in Automotive Engineering International Online highlights the potential for ultracapacitors to take some of the battery market for vehicle power.  The positive side of ultracapacitors would seem to demand their use over that of batteries.  They can produce up to 10 times the power of batteries – important in acceleration.  They handle temperatures down to -40°C (-40° F), something which drops battery power outputs to near uselessness in many cases.  They last forever compared to batteries, can be charged in minutes as opposed to hours, and can even be recycled more fully than batteries – some of whose chemistries are toxic. Prices are dropping quickly.  A 3,000-Farad ultracapacitor sold for $5,000 10 years ago.  Today, it …

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 …

Dr. Stephen H. Schneider: 1945 – 2010

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

Dr. Stephen Schneider, Stanford University climate scientist, early advocate of climate change and a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N. organization that with former Vice President Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, died Monday of a heart attack while on a flight to London from a science meeting in Stockholm, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.  He held many post-doctoral degrees and was a scientific advisor for every president from Richard Nixon to Barack Obama.  He was awarded several post-doctoral fellowships and won the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” in 1972.  He and his wife,  Dr. Terry Root, shared the national Conservation Achievement Award in 1993 from the National Wildlife Federation. His web site provides an …

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, …

Trikebuggy Addendum

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

In “Two Motors and Everything But Coffee,” our entry for February 28, we detailed Pierre-Jean Beney’s Hacker motor-powered Trikebuggy.  Pierre-Jean wants to change things, including, “The motor, the prop, the battery and the wing… So I am still somewhat away from where I want to have….” Currently, it takes 2,000 propeller revolutions per minute to maintain level flight.  The LiF2PO4 batteries allow a current draw of 160 Amps at 48 Volts, and will produce level flight power for about 22 minutes at this rate.  These are, according to Pierre-Jean, very safe batteries, but heavy.  Pierre-Jean’s new batteries are Li-Po, which will give 52 Volts at the same amperage, but are, in his estimation, less safe.  They are also lighter, weighing only 6.6 kilograms …

Cutting Grass with Manfred Ruhmer

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Uncategorized 0 Comments

Manfred Ruhmer has designed a motorized trike for the Laminar wing under which he has flown to world champion status three times, and achieved a world record flight of 701 kilometers (434.62 miles).  The trike can be powered with a Simonini two-stroke or Bailey four-stroke engine, or the Geiger/Eck electric motor/controller/folding propeller combination. Here, Manfred shows off some of his world-class flying skills.  Note that about 40 seconds into the video, the landing gear has picked up some vegetation.  Later, at around the 2:00 mark, the streamers reappear.  Whether this is from the grassy field from which Manfred flies, or some very low passes, is open to speculation. The Icaro 2000 site is useful for making some important comparisons between the IC engine options …

A Manned Swift Takes Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Uncategorized 3 Comments

Dr. Steve Morris is President of MLB Co., an enterprise specializing in low-cost, compact, remotely piloted and autonomous aerial surveillance, mapping and monitoring systems.  On December 23, 2009, he and his associates test flew their first man-carrying, directly-piloted craft – an electric one. Pilot Brian Porter made two flights totalling about 20 minutes in a part 103 ultralight Swift hang glider to which was attached a custom-built pilot/powerplant/landing gear module.  Power was by a Randall Fisher-supplied ElectraFlyer motor coupled to a reduction system built by Dr.  Morris and his associates at MLB. Despite limitation imposed by the motor controller’s maximum current and propeller efficiency limited to 65-75 percent, the airplane demonstrated performance within 10 percent of calculations.  Its rate of climb was 335 feet per minute, …

Two Motors and Everything but Coffee

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

Pierre-Jean Beney may be the first to fly an electrically-powered paraglider with a tricycle wheeled chassis. Using a Trikebuggy, itself a unique platform, Beney mounted two Hacker A200-8 motors with 220 Amp controllers, a tidy reduction system, and his own microprocessor board to drive the motors with a combined throttle and kill switch. The board, according to Beney, also monitors the LiF2PO4 batteries, RPM, and will soon be connected to a global positioning system (GPS) to measure speed, “and eventually make coffee!!!” Other anticipated changes may include different motors, including a larger, direct drive type. The motors are each capable of producing 15 kW and can handle 185 Amps of current continuously, with 300 Amps peak. Beney provided your editor …