Biofuels from Many Sources

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

We’ve looked at an array of different biofuel sources ranging from used cooking oil and algae to farm and municipal waste.  This is essential as the percentage of airline emissions becomes a bigger part of our overall greenhouse gas situation.   The Guardian reports, “A 2017 estimate said air travel accounted for 2.5% of all carbon dioxide emissions, with the total emissions expected to quadruple by 2050.”We’ll look here at how some of the early efforts have panned out and examine a late-breaking surprise or two. Mustard Seeds? According to the Guardian, “A Qantas plane powered partly by mustard seeds has become the world’s first biofuel flight between Australia and the United States, after landing in Melbourne on [January 30, 2018].” …

Battery Options for Range and Longevity

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

Two varying approaches to battery development may hold clues to future directions for energy storage.  At the same time, their announcements, promising as they seem, reinforce our cautious attitudes toward how battery performance numbers are presented. PNNL Attacks the Electrolyte Issue According to Green Optimistic, “Researchers from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have developed a new formula for battery’s electrolyte solution to enhance its performance unprecedentedly in terms of its service life and storage capacity or an electric vehicle’s range.” The video gives an overview of what it takes to make a battery and hints at the reasons battery research takes so long to give up improved energy storage devices. Unprecedented the development may be, and the promise of …

Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Siemens Team Up on Hybrid Airliner

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

As many of your editor’s friends know, he is often lured to trolling the tabloids, looking for juicy bits about the royal family or Hollywood royalty.  Recently, while perusing the Daily Mail* for news of the upcoming Harry/Meaghan nuptials, he came across the big-headline news that three European power players – Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and Siemens, are collaborating on creating a testbed for a hybrid power system. The trio will take a Bae 146 four-engine regional jet, convert it to a hybrid demonstrator by 2020, and have a production plane in place by 2030.  The high-wing airplane has four turbofans in place now, but the partners will replace one with a Siemens two-megawatt electric motor powered by a Rolls-Royce two-megawatt generator …

Doing More with Less – BLI on a Big Scale

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

Hybrid and electric cars sell because they lower operating costs for the owner.  Designers and manufacturers sort out ways to increase efficiency, including streamlining, using low-rolling-resistance tires, and making structures lighter.  An added technology, boundary layer ingestion (BLI) may add to aircraft efficiency. NASA and industry leaders are working on equivalent solutions for aircraft, and airplanes will end up as different from today’s designs as Toyota Priuses and BMW i3s are from Ford Falcons or Chevrolet Corvettes.  NASA proclaims, “An aviation renaissance, one focused on energy efficiency and economic impact, is on the horizon, and it’s changing how engineers look at aircraft power and design.” Jim Heidmann, a manager of NASA’s Advanced Air Transport Technology Project (AATT), says, “I feel we …

Paris to London Using No Fossil Fuels

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

Jeff Engler fired up a start-up, Wright Electric, about a year ago.  Last week, he presented at the Y Combinator Winter 2017 Demo Day – a semi-annual event where venture capitalists can meet the latest in venturesome mendicants.  Tech Crunch describes the firm’s goals, which include electric flights between London and Paris on no fossil fuels – ambitious to say the least. “Wright Electric wants to build the world’s first electric airplane (at least the first 150 seat electric airliner). One of the main reasons airlines like Southwest can offer low fares is that they pre-purchase gas, but Wright sees an opportunity to make flights even cheaper by using electric planes instead. The company is targeting the 30 percent of …

Pop.Up – Airbus Pops Up with Another VTOL Commuter

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

What will Pop.Up next?  We’re floating away, being carried skyward by PAL-V’s, JetPack’s 12-rotor machine, e-volo’s 16-rotor design, and even Hoversurf’s four-rotor flying donor-cycle. At least a half-dozen other varieties of VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) commuter machines are coming at us with bewildering speed.  If nothing else, the competing visions of future aerial transport show some kind of deeply felt need to escape the surly bonds of earth, or at least its eternal gridlock. Airbus has already played one hand, showing its cards with Silicon Valley-based A3 (A Cubed) and a vehicle looking like a combination of NASA’s X-57 Maxwell and Joby Aviation’s S2.  It pulled another card from its sleeve this week at the Geneva Auto Show, unveiling …

Your Flying Car is on Its Way – How Soon?

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

Uber is projecting real-world approaches to personal transport in urban environments.  Their work with Airbus affiliate A3 could help unlock gridlock for all of us.  Gridlock wastes millions of hours of otherwise productive time, a key measure of “the good life.”  With eVolo having demonstrated that 16 rotors can carry the weight of two people, and eHang showing a drone-like device that can carry one passenger on a 20-minute hop, urban mobility may soon become less depressing and more uplifting.  Other vehicles wait in the wings, so to speak, with the main impediment being regulatory gridlock. Uber Elevates the Discussion Uber Elevate, a project on which Uber and Airbus are collaborating, published a 98-page white paper last November, Fast-Forwarding to …

First motor Test Run for Equator P2

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The Equator P2 is a hybrid amphibious two-seater that looks like the future.  Under development for a decade, this amateur-built machine looks highly professional, surpassing in form and function many of its factory-built peers.  It had its first motor run-up recently, a much-anticipated event that met all expectations. Looking Like the Future, Built in a Garage One can see the garage-built home of the craft in the simple bracing used to hold the tail-mounted motor in place, an example of the truly hand-made nature of the Equator prototype.  The rudimentary surroundings fail to show the sophistication of the design, however, including a power system similar to that used on the range-extended e-Genius. Progress over the last nine years has been …

Larry Page’s Flying Car(s)?

Dean Sigler Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

A3 backed by Airbus, EHang 184 from China, and Zee from Larry Page (head of Google) – Silicon Valley seems an unlikely source of aeronautical breakthroughs, but several entrepreneurial outings from Airbus, Chinese startups, and Zee.Aero, led by a secretive Larry Page, have interest growing.  A pair of recent flights by Zee’s craft in Hollister, California have generated coverage – and speculation. Larry Page’s Two Companies It turns out Page has a second company, Kitty Hawk, taking yet another path toward electrified flying cars with something like a large quadcopter – not unlike the eHang 184.  Neither Zee.Aero nor Kitty Hawk is affiliated with Google, both funded out of Page’s largesse.  One theory is that his two companies, the first …

Airbus’s Aerial Commuter of the Future?

Dean Sigler Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Airbus and its partner Local Motors have just finished a successful design challenge for delivery drones that can carry things like emergency medical supplies to selected destinations.  Recent announcements and the release of a patent drawing show Airbus is doing serious work toward delivering humans to their selected destinations in a scaled-up version of such drones.  Many brilliant people have tried to combine the benefits of ground and air transport over the years, including Molt Taylor, designer of the rightly famous Aerocars.  The example at Seattle’s Museum of Flight causes docents to lower their voices out of respect for the accomplishment. That’s certainly a concept promoted for last decade by Dr. Brien Seeley, head of the Sustainable Aviation Foundation and …