Carbon Fiber, Batteries and Clean Air from CO2

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

Creators of a one-step process called STEP (Solar Thermal Electrochemical Photo) claim a world of benefits, including pulling carbon dioxide from the air and turning it into useful things, such as fuels, cement, and cheap carbon fiber.  The process can also purify and desalinate water, according to many of the 300 peer-reviewed papers by Dr. Stuart Licht of George Washington University and his graduate students. The elevator speech regarding their research can be found on the home page for the group.   “A new fundamental solar process has been introduced.  STEP efficiently removes carbon from the atmosphere and generates the staples needed by society, ranging from fuels, to metals, bleach and construction materials, at high solar efficiency and without carbon dioxide generation. …

Buy Silkworm Futures Now

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

We tend to think of batteries as being inanimate objects, even though they expand, contract and flex their electric muscles within their cylindrical or pouch forms as they charge and discharge.  This type of internal wiggling helps reduce and finally destroy the battery’s ability to make our remotes change channels or keep our airplanes flying. Researchers at the Beijing Institute of Technology have found a way to use the product of much internal and external wiggling, natural silk that is “biomass-derived” and processed to form carbon-based nanosheets that might be used in lithium-ion batteries and other energy storage devices. The American Chemical Society reports that Chuanbao Cao and his researchers worked with the idea that carbon is a key component …

Lithium Sulfur Batteries – Energy Storage at New Heights

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Last year, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) announced that researchers had “successfully demonstrated that lithium-sulfur battery technology can indeed outdo lithium-ion on several fronts.”   Theoretically, lithium-sulfur batteries could be four times as energy dense as today’s lithium-ion batteries, but that promise had yet to be demonstrated.  ORNL took initial steps toward that goal, and within the last few months researchers at Vanderbilt University have shown a strong lead in forming lithium-sulfur batteries with commercial potential. Echoing work done at Sakti3, ORNL researchers demonstrated an all-solid-state lithium-sulfur cell, addressing flammability issues shared by batteries with solid electrolytes.  Using lithium polysulfidophosphates (LPSPs) in the cathode, and which have ionic conductivities eight times higher than that of lithium sulfide (Li2S) the team coupled …

Load-Bearing Supercapacitors

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

What if your battery served also as a wing or a fuselage?  Several current efforts converge on creating batteries or supercapacitors that could function as structural elements in electric vehicles.  We’ve reported on this before, with efforts by Dr. Emil Greenhalgh at Imperial College London and associated work by Volvo to make car components from the type of energy storing sandwich structure he developed.  Your editor’s article on the “Grand Unified Airplane” in the July 2013 issue of Kitplanes magazine advanced the idea that such structures, coupled with graphene’s projected capabilities to collect solar energy, could lead to a self-powering aircraft.  (In researching the current entry, he found that his idea had been done at model scale by BAE.) Reports …

Three Candidates for the Coming “Magic Rush” of Batteries

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Robert Cringely, writing in EVWorld.com foresees a paradigm-shifting event that will happen sooner rather than later.  “A black swan is what we call an unexpected technical innovation that disrupts existing markets. Intrinsic to the whole black swan concept is that you can’t predict them: they come when they come.  Only today I think I’ll predict a black swan, thank you, and explain exactly how the automobile business is about to be disrupted. I think we’re about two years away from a total disruption of the automobile business by electric cars.” He quotes the respected auto journalist Robert Cumberford.  “’I see the acceptance of electric cars happening in a sudden rush. Maybe not this year, maybe not for a couple of …

Caging Hydrogen in Self-assembling Origami Structures

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Let’s say that you’re really good at folding pieces of paper into miniature birds such as cranes, or life-size elephants, something origami artist Sipho Mabona did recently, starting with a 50-foot by 50-foot piece of paper (he had help from up to 40 others).   The paper elephant, including a metal subframe to support it, weighs over 500 pounds. How about using origami to trap hydrogen in a novel approach to storing energy for fuel cells?  Only, instead of paper, you might use sheets of graphene cleverly folded into cages no more than a few nanometers across – the opposite of the elephant in the art gallery.  Researchers at the University of Maryland’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Maryland NanoCenter, have …

Unzipped Nanotubes Show Energetic Promise

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Rice University, supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), has demonstrated “a way to boost the efficiency of the ubiquitous lithium ion (LI) battery by employing ribbons of graphene that start as carbon nanotubes.” The AFOSR explains, “Four years ago, [Rice chemist James] Tour’s research team demonstrated that they could chemically unzip cylindrical shaped carbon nanotubes into soluble graphene nanoribbons (GNR) without compromising the electronic properties of the graphitic structure. A recent paper by the Tour team, published in IEEE Spectrum and partially funded by AFOSR, showed that GNR can significantly increase the storage capacity of lithium ion (Li-ion) by combining graphene nanoribbons with tin oxide. “By producing GNR in bulk, a necessary requirement for making this …

Horizontal or Vertical, in the Air or on the Water

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A 2008 ScienceDaily story was brought to light recently in the Minimalist Airplane Study Group, a Yahoo group dedicated to academic research on small aircraft. “In an advance toward introduction of an amazing new kind of internal combustion engine, researchers in China are reporting development and use of a new and more accurate computer model to assess performance of the so-called free-piston linear alternator (FPLA).” Their study of the FPLA, which could provide a low-emission, fuel efficient engine for future hybrid electric vehicles, was published in the August 27, 2008 issue of The American Chemical Society’s Energy & Fuels, a bi-monthly, peer-reviewed journal. Qingfeng Li, Jin Xiao and Zhen Huang explain in their paper that the FPLA has only one …