EAS IX: Chip Erwin Gets Personal with Electric Flying

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Light Sport Aircraft (LSA), alas, haven’t lived up to their early hype, 100 manufacturers selling only 235 units in the United States last year.  That bothers Chip Erwin, who would like a Personal Sport Aircraft (PSA) option.  He’s working through his company, Aeromarine LSA, to do something about that. Chip explains that high prices for LSAs, brought on by doubling Rotax prices over the last decade and quadrupling of once cheap European labor rates, has put what were to be $50,000 airplanes into the $150,000 price range, barely able to compete with used Cessnas and Pipers. Having demonstrated two-stroke engines and an Electravia motor on his imported Zigolo ultralight glider, he has displayed an alternative motor designed by Don Lineback, …

Supercapacitors? It’s a Wrap

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Recent entries in Electricvehiclesresearch.com alerted your editor to a novel combination of batteries and supercapacitors to gain power and energy – usually mutually exclusive in energy storage devices.  The Paper Battery Company (an intriguing name) makes an extremely thin supercapacitor that can be literally wrapped around a battery or structure to make a hybrid energy storage device that allows the best features of both. Their PowerWrapper™ Supercapacitor is a half-millimeter thick (or as Paper Battery insists –thin) 4.5 Volt device that can be flexed to fit over or around “your device, folds, bends or cut outs.”  This conformability still allows hundreds of thousands of charge/discharge cycles, supercapacitor longevity being one of their big selling points. Others, according to the firm’s …

High-capacity, Soft Batteries From Trees

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

This is not pulp fiction, but pulp fact, trees being converted into squishy new nerf-like batteries. Researchers at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stanford University have made elastic, high-capacity batteries from wood pulp.  The foam-like battery material can withstand shock and stress, according to the schools.  Max Hamedi, a researcher at KTH and Harvard University, says, “It is possible to make incredible materials from trees and cellulose.” The wood-based aerogel material can be used for three-dimensional structures, important for overcoming certain restrictions imposed by two-dimensional approaches.  Hamedi explains, “There are limits to how thin a battery can be, but that becomes less relevant in 3D.  We are no longer restricted to two dimensions. We can build in three …

Designer Carbon: High Surface Area and Porosity

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Stanford researchers, working with scientists at Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and China’s National Laboratory of Microstructures (Nanjing), School of Electronic Science and Engineering, at Nanjing University, have squeezed carbon as flat (if not flatter than) as graphene and poked lots of well-sized holes in it to make designer battery and supercapacitor components.  Professor  Zhenan Bao led the efforts at Stanford. The combined teams’ paper, “Ultrahigh Surface Area Three-Dimensional Porous Graphitic Carbon from Conjugated Polymeric Molecular Framework,” appeared as a cover article in the May 18 edition of the journal ACS Central Science. The paper explains, “High surface area porous carbon materials are of great technological importance due to their diverse functionalities and excellent physical/chemical robustness. Their …

Motorcycle Motors as Powerplants for Experimenters

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A frustration borne by homebuilt aircraft designers for years has been that of finding an appropriate, reasonably-priced powerplant for aircraft in the single and small two-seat range.    Early experimenters often converted motorcycle engines to their ultralight needs.  Continentals, Lycomings, and Franklins filled those needs in the 1930s and ‘40s, and other than Rotax and a few smaller manufacturer’s offerings, there really haven’t been any replacements since then.  Electric powerplants, however, can be found in the motorcycles being produced by many American and foreign companies now, with more to come from Europe and Japan. Designers looking for available electric motors and “plug-and-play”* complete systems may want to look at the 2015 Zero Motorcycle lineup.  Since one Zero motor has flown at …

Flexibly Keeping Batteries from Blowing their Cool

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Meltdown – not a term one wants to hear when confronting an obstinate boss or while levitating in his or her new Tom Swift Electric Octo-copter.  But it is a real specter confronting electric vehicle users, and one amplified to positive levels of terror in flight. Two groups of researchers have come up with novel ways of quelling that terror and getting rid of the normally flammable electrolyte that helps make lithium battery fires truly memorable. If researchers at Chapel Hill and Washington State University are successful in their research, that acid electrolyte can be replaced with something safer and as a bonus in both cases, batteries using these new substances will perform better and longer. Researchers at the University …

Taking Paper Batteries to the Next Level – Origami

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Almost four years ago, this blog reported on Dr. Yi Cui’s “painted battery,” a method of coating even paper with carbon nanotubes and silver nanowires, with the coated paper being able to store energy. Adding origami to the concept, Arizona State University researchers have folded a paper-based lithium-ion battery and managed to demonstrate a 14-fold increase in areal energy, or energy density per unit of area.  This has serious implications for batteries that can be printed on roll paper and which have the requisite flexibility.  More rigid batteries might crack under the strain, for instance, and achieve negative results from being folded. “’Foldable batteries may be useful for powering devices that have limited space on board,’ coauthor Candace Chan, Assistant …

Yuneec Returns to America as Greenwing

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Under the direction of CEO Tian Yu, Yuneec International is back in the U. S. as Greenwing International, selling the single-seat e-Spyder and two-seat e430, as well as a range of motors, controllers, and battery packs. Based at Cable Airport near Los Angeles, California, the group has been assembling and testing the first of the Flightstar-based e-Spyders and will have several on hand at AirVenture 2013 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin next week. The group recently had an illustrious name as test pilot. Erik Lindbergh shares his thoughts about his first flight in an electric airplane. “After five years working to accelerate the development of the electric aircraft industry I have finally realized my dream to fly an electric aircraft, thanks to …

Reanimating a 30-Year-Old Canard with an Electrical Charge

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The CC01e, a tiny, single-seat canard design by Frenchman Claude Chudzik, flew for the first time in 30 years years, now powered by an Electravia-supplied motor system.  Taking off from Nangis airport, team member Frederic Laude gingerly guided the airplane on its single circuit of the field. He reported some tendency to “marsouine,” or porpoise, of which he’d been forewarned, and managed to keep the pitch oscillations in check.  Based on the team’s report on their blog, he accelerated to 60 knots (69 mph), pulled lightly on the stick and “jumped” off the runway.   You can see the porpoise-like bobble immediately after lift-off, and Frederic’s ability to get things under control quickly.  Once on track, he reached 94 knots (108 …

Chew on This: How a Snail Might Teach Us How to Make Better Batteries

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Radula: A flexible tonguelike organ in certain mollusks, having rows of horny teeth on the surface. [Latin r dula, scraper, from r dere, to scrape] freedictionary.com The Gumboot Chiton is not pretty, and is downright ugly when turned over.  The rows of molars on its underside are wonderfully suited though, to scraping algae off rocks, and the hardness of its dentures is something materials scientists study closely.  The Chiton, described as a “wandering meatloaf” because of its hump of leathery brown upper skin, may not have an alluring personality, but is teeth are magnetic, leading to University of California, Riverside assistant professor David Kisailus’ attraction to them. Kisailus, specializing in chemical and environmental engineering, and his fellow researchers may have found …