Seventh Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium Unveils New Technology

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Feedback, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

This year’s CAFE Foundation Electric Aircraft Symposium in Santa Rosa, California had surprises from several sources, including new aircraft, batteries, and materials that will help make the future a good place to be.  Some technologies are maturing and some are about to spring forth in ways we won’t see coming. We’ll be looking at each presentation in detail in future postings, but know for certain that the electric aircraft movement is turning a corner as things become integrated in an ever-quicker progression.  We will see significant announcements in the next few months. The Symposium included not only technology, but seriously looked at how neighborhoods and society in general can integrate these new technologies in a more responsible way than the …

Solar Impulse is Here

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solarimpulse.com reports, “The Boeing 747 landed at Moffett Airfield in San Francisco at 1:13 PM (UTC-8) on Thursday 21 February.  HB-SIA was immediately unloaded and, in the coming days reassembly will begin.” Almost immediately, crews will assemble and test fly the already intercontinental solar-powered aircraft in preparation for a flight from the Bay Area to the East Coast.  Having conquered the gap between Europe and Africa on its trip to Rabat, Morocco and on to Quarzazate, HB-SIA braved turbulence and gusting that caused it to turn back on its initial foray into the desert.  Its final arrival at a gigantic solar energy plant in Morocco’s interior was a symbol of what clean energy can accomplish and a tribute to Solar …

IBM’s 500 Mile Battery Progress

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

According to an article by Simon Fogg on the New Electronics UK web site, “In the early 1900s, electric vehicles were more common than their petrol powered counterparts – and so were steam powered versions, although these allegedly took 45minutes to start.” What we now think of as “alternative energy” vehicles were killed off when the self starter became a common feature on internal-combustion cars. The danger of breaking an arm while cranking the family automobile was gone, and women, who had been big proponents of the salon-like electrics of the day, turned to gasoline power to run errands. With two billion fossil fuel-powered cars pumping their exhausts into a beleaguered atmosphere, the question becomes not whether there will be …

Jonathan Trent and the Omega Project

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Jonathan Trent, a NASA researcher, presented his OMEGA Project at the CAFE Foundation’s 2010 Electric Aircraft Symposium. It promised a simple and practical way to grow oil-rich algae using effluent from city waste, and processing it with sunlight and wave motion in a continuous process. Such a system would clean wastewater, reduce CO2, and provide non-food-stock-based biofuels for transportation. OMEGA, “Offshore Membrane Enclosure for Growing Algae”, is now a more complex system as Dr. Trent and at least three research teams develop the technology in the San Francisco Bay Area and at Santa Cruz on the nearby California coast. In this TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) lecture from 2011 Dr. Trent gives an update on the process and how it can …

Joules in Her Crown

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

One of the favorite speakers at the Electric Aircraft Symposia sponsored by the CAFE Foundation, Eva Håkansson is more than just a great talker. She recently topped 216 miles per hour in KillaJoule, her streamlined electric sidecar motorcycle. She built 80 percent of the 250-horsepower vehicle herself over two and one-half years. An engineering graduate student at the University of Denver, Eva and her husband Bill Dube’ hold world records on and in their electric motorcycles. Eva managed to come within three mph of the world record internal-combustion powered for sidecars on the salt flat. She also managed a world record for the flying mile, going through the traps at 191.488 mph – the record awaiting American Motorcycle Association certification.  …

Hydrogen Scooters – A Possible Power Source?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Amateur aircraft builders, like Francis Marlier of the ULM Club in Alsace, France who recently converted his Exelec to a Sunexelec with the addition of solar cells, are always looking for reasonable options for powering their airplanes. Perhaps they could turn to fuel cells as a range extender. Several motor scooter makers are bringing out fuel-cell powered models that show some promise despite limited performance and high prices so far. Intelligent Energy, an English company, demonstrated a fuel cell scooter in 2005, and a number of aircraft developers, including Boeing, have crafted fuel-cell-powered vehicles. Intelligent Energy’s ENV was reportedly the world’s first purpose-built fuel cell motorbike, and Top Gear’s James May enjoyed the quiet ride, if only moderately endorsing the …

Volta Volare’ at EAS VI

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Action at the sixth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium did not stop at the end of each day’s presentations, but carried into the evening hours on Friday, April 27.  Three theme dinners allowed additional speakers to present materials on motors, aerodynamics, or energy. Paul Peterson, the founder and CEO of Volta Volare’, introduced the dinner crowd to his Volta Volare’ GT4 high-performance, hybrid aircraft, which joins Pipistrel’s Pantera and John McGinnis’ Synergy in the realm of fast, roomy airplanes that will have operating costs far below those of similar traditional airplanes. When your editor saw news about Peterson’s creation in Popular Science, he asked Dr. Seeley if CAFE could invite him to the EAS, which received an immediate, positive response, and …

Living Up To a Standard

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Ron Gremban is an early developer of plug-in electric hybrid (PHEV) automobiles, having helped convert hundreds of Toyota Priuses to extend their electric-only range and make them even more practical real-world automobiles. His 2008 writing on the differences between the Prius and Chevrolet’s Volt shows an ability to consider the actual physics and engineering involved rather than allowing the heat of the debate to obscure the realities. Backing from Dr. Andrew Frank of UC Davis gives further credibility to Gremban’s views. Given his demonstrated abilities and his dispassionate vision, it’s no surprise that Gremban would look at projected electric flight in ways that haven’t yet occurred to its most ardent promoters. On April 27, at the Friday evening Motors theme dinner, …

AVweb Talks to Dr. Seeley About EAS VI

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The sixth annual Electric Electric Aircraft Symposium, CAFE’s premier event, got a lot of press attention this year, including lead story status from AOPA and acknowledgement from Engadget and AVweb.  We’ll start with the one that’s most fun to listen to – a podcast from AVweb. Mary Grady of AVweb interviewed Dr. Brien Seeley, President of the CAFE Foundation, about the just completed Electric Aircraft Symposium at Santa Rosa, California, which drew participants from at least eight countries and 10 multi-national corporations.  With Federal Aviation Administration representation and a former Environmental Protection Agency head signed up to attend, the Symposium drew some high-level attention this year. Dr. Seeley was enthusiastic about the rapidly maturing technology and industry, with Tom Gunnarson …

Quiet Planes Make Good Neighbors

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

With this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium just a few days away, the next few blog entries will close out reviews of presentations from EAS V. Krish J. Ahuja, Regents Professor at the School of Aerospace Engineering and the head of the Aerospace and Acoustics Technology Division at Georgia Institute of Technology, talked on “Quiet Propulsion for Small Electric Aircraft.” Dr. Ahuja came with great credentials, including his 1993 AIAA Aeroacoustics Award and being listed as one of top 50 Innovators by Aerospace magazine, 1995 and one of top 50 Technology leaders in the US by Industry Week Magazine. He started by examining the sources of aircraft noise.  Internal combustion engines (ICEs) are inherently noisy, but propellers add to that noise …