Defeating Dendrites – Going with the Flow

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

One thing stalling battery development, dendrites, may have met their match if University of California at Davis researchers have their way.  Jiandi Wan’s research group allowed ions to flow through a microfluidic channel near a battery’s cathode to prevent dendrite growth.  According the group’s paper, this, “…can potentially expand the safety and lifespans of these next-generation rechargeable batteries.”  Their research may lead to safe lithium metal batteries, promising higher power and energy densities, but also struggling with safety issues. Lithium metal batteries might potentially produce twice the energy of lithium-ion batteries, but have greater risks because of the growth of tree-like dendrites on the cathode.  An article in PV Buzz explains, “When they charge, some ions are reduced to lithium …

Two Ways to Haul 19 on H2

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Pipistel and Delft Technical University have introduced hydrogen (H2) powered, 19-seat airliners for the intermediate-range market.  Both are unique configurations with unique propulsion concepts.  Both attempt to lower drag through the use of their propulsive systems. Pipistrel Miniliner Pipistrel announced their Miniliner concept as a response to a “significant market potential” for a “zero-emission airplane in the 20-seat size class, capable of operating quietly from runways shorter than 1 [kilometer], including grass airstrips at small aerodromes.”  Seen as a disruptive element in providing service to currently unserved areas within a 200 to 1,000 kilometer (124 to 620 mile) range, the Miniliner could also serve as a microfeeder craft between small airports and large hubs. Although Pipistrel is somewhat mum about …

Joby Aviation’s eVTOL Makes a Quiet Debut

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Joby Aviation’s recent debut of a very quiet eVTOL (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) aircraft has caused a stir in the aviation and financial worlds. Silent operation, or as near silent as possible, is essential to the future success of the sky taxi ideal.  Toward that end, JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, has been working out the many aspects of  eVTOL flight for over the past decade.  Starting with kites that would generate electricity and pass it down their tethers to ground-based substations, he advanced to investigate how tilting wings and tilting rotors could safely carry passengers to their destinations.  He initially recruited a small band of engineers that’s grown to over 700 employees today and …

eCSTOL: Longer Range Commutes on Less Power

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, SAS, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Competition is growing in the electric Vertical Take Off and Landing market, with 407 potential builders listed in eVTOL News.  Vertical flight takes power, though, and with available batteries limiting range, most such vehicles can make only short hops.  Alternatives that allow speedier, longer flights, in the form of electric Conventional Short Take Off and Landing (eCSTOL) aircraft are in development. Such craft offer the benefit of requiring less power for takeoffs and climbs, being more aeronautically-based than power-based.  Airflow, for instance, claims operating costs for their eCTSOL craft is one-third that of an eVTOL or helicopter. We will look at three eCSTOL craft that seem to making headway at this time.  The infrastructure (in two cases below) to support …

Longer Aerial Commutes to Affordability

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Exurbs and Extended Range Urban Air Mobility (UAM) may be only a small part of electric aerial transport in the next decade.   Longer-range vehicles may enable longer aerial commutes to affordable country homes. Cities are becoming too expensive for most families, and examples abound of commuters traveling over 100 miles to and from work.  Two years ago in San Francisco, for instance, the cheapest home (a true “fixer-upper”) was listed at $699,900, a sum that used to include significant acreage and servants’ quarters.  A “typical” home price in SFO is over $1,400,000.  As a result, workers travel from places like Manteca, 76.4 miles downtown to downtown and one hour, 35 minutes in a car on a good day.  Manteca’s homes …

Landing Zones for All Those eVTOLs (and eCSTOLs)

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Siting  and Building Considerations at the 2019 SAS As we see an inrush of capital to finance new electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) machines and now electric Conventional Short Take Off and Landing (eCSTOL) machines, we are on the cusp of seeing newly envisioned landing zones for these machines.  With the departure of Uber from the aerial scene, we probably won’t see the grandiose platforms the firm promoted. Your editor poked fun at these visions in his talk at the 2019 Sustainable Aviation Symposium at UC Berkeley, doubting that urban centers would welcome hundreds of arrivals and departures overhead day and night. Luckily, presenters who had worked on real-world re-imaginings of Uber’s grander vision helped talk your editor down.  …

Hydrogen as a Goop? Fraunhofer’s Powerpaste

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Not Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop What if a different approach to storing hydrogen as a fuel gave benefits that are easily disbelieved?  Would this new fuel find approval and widespread adoption?  Ask the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials (IFAM) in Dresden, Germany.  The Institute has come up with something called Powerpaste, claimed to be, “A safe way of storing hydrogen in a chemical form that is easy to transport and replenish without the need for an expensive network of filling stations.” (Fraunhofer describes the paste as a “goop,” not to be confused with the very different fluids marketed by Gwyneth Paltrow under the “Goop” trade name.) We’ve seen hydrogen flying for several decades, with Michael Friend leading a …

Airflow Moves toward Full Scale eCSTOL, AI

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Airflow, a recent entry into the electric conventional short takeoff and landing (eCSTOL) market, is pushing forward into fielding a full-scale demonstrator.  They are also testing the limits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in nailing their landings. Airflow’s mission is spelled out in big ideas and bold fonts. “Freight without the wait.  The first electric Short Take Off and Landing (eSTOL) aircraft for middle-mile logistics.  1 pilot, 500 lbs of cargo, 0 lbs of CO2.” Airflow’s concept illustrations show a twin-boom pusher with 10 distributed electric motors along the wing’s leading edge.  Trying out their ideas for extremely short takeoffs and landings will fall to a modified Cessna 210.  In the meantime, the team is advancing its concept at this time …

Work Begins on Production eFlyer 2

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

For the last year or so, Bye Aerospace has grown a burgeoning order book, with over 700 aircraft on call, but only one or two real-world examples flying.  That’s changing now, with a new motor from Safran and Composites Universal Group (CUG) assembling an actual production eFlyer 2 fuselage. Parts of the video may seem like comparing apples and bananas, or even cumquats, with aircraft of different missions and levels of development (the Airbus eFan having left the building years ago), but several points of interest remain.  Where are 92 kilowatt-hours of battery hiding in the 662 kilogram – 1,459 pound airframe (empty weight)?  That’s equivalent to the energy of an early Tesla S and probably a significant chunk of …

Happy Velis Electro News from Pipistrel

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Taja Boscarol, Public Relations Manager for Pipistel Vertical Solutions, and Michael Coates, Master Distributor for USA, Australia & New Zealand, shared a lot of happy news this week about their Velis Electro. Electric Outsells Gasoline Powered Michael puts his news in enthusiastic, all-caps context.  “The US has a new president, Europe is under siege from new Covid varieties, and Pipistrel is adding a SECOND SHIFT TO KEEP UP WITH PRODUCTION! “Did you know that in 2020 Pipistrel DELIVERED 111 (one-hundred and eleven) of the certified Pipistrel Velis electric aircraft, as well as many more Pipistrel ALPHA Electro aircraft?  In fact, this year for the first time ever, Pipistrel produced more electric aircraft than gasoline powered!” More than 70 Pipistrel Velis …