John Goodenough’s Counterintuitive Battery

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

A Long and Productive Life On his 96th birthday today, John Goodenough and his research team’s latest findings are the subject of much speculation.  He, fellow scientist Maria Braga, and his research team have created a battery claimed to be three times as energy dense as existing lithium-ion contemporaries, but exhibiting the counterintuitive property of improving with repeated charging cycles. Goodenough’s career began in 1943 (a year after your editor was born) with the award of his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Yale University, followed his master’s and Ph.D. in physics from the University of Chicago in 1951 and 1952 respectively.  He worked at MIT and in 1976, left to become head of Oxford University’s Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory from 1976 …

NASA Freely Shares X57 Lessons

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

NASA and several partner firms have been working on the X-57 Maxwell electric propulsion demonstrator for the past several years.  It hasn’t been as easy as it looked at first.  Encouragingly, NASA is sharing some of the hard lessons it has learned in the process, much like Elon Musk sharing many of his patents with the world. One of the hardest lessons involved the multiple battery packs, originally planned to be off-the-shelf units.  A December 2016 test resulted in a thermal runaway, a situation in which one cell that overheats can self-destruct and cause adjacent cells to follow suit.  This, as we’ve seen in Dreamliner incidents, can be dangerous and potentially deadly.  Such fires are exceedingly well reported, with any Tesla …

Heathrow London to Charing Cross in 12 Minutes

Dean Sigler Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Autonomous Flight designs and manufactures autonomous passenger drones (APD), and is based in both the United Kingdom and the United States.  Founded by Martin Warner, the company joins a growing number of entrepreneurial groups combining drone hardware and “software-based technologies” to provide rapid point-to-point transportation. Warner envisions a wide range of drone-based, battery-powered air vehicles for both commercial and private use, which he calls the “new gold rush in transportation and aviation”.  Autonomous Flight’s website promotes the familiar arguments for rising above gridlock.  The firm’s commercial notes the average American commuter spends 3.5 hours trapped in traffic every month.  The answer is the Y6S, a two-passenger drone that will whisk you from London-Heathrow to Charing Cross Station in only 12 …

AirSpaceX is NOT an Elon Musk Company

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Airspace Experience Technologies, LLC (AirSpaceX) is a subsidiary of Detroit Aircraft Corporation (DAC), and as far as this editor knows, not related to Elon Musk’s SpaceX.  A little closer to earth, the planned low-altitude perambulations of its two creations reflect the growing interest in “sky taxis.” A Holding Company Brought Down by the Great Depression Jon Rimanelli, founder and CEO, sees Detroit Aircraft Corporation as an attempt to return the Motor City to its former glory days as a leader in aircraft development.  He notes that for a few brief years, DAC held controlling interests in the Ryan and Lockheed Aircraft companies, and created the only metal-clad airship in aeronautical history, The ZMC-2.  He explains, “Back in the ’20s, Detroit …

Follow the Battery Money

Dean Sigler Batteries, Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

With Tesla’s $5.5 billion “gigafactory” already producing cells for its line of cars and its “Powerwall” home energy storage systems, it now seems like a tenuous, toe-dipping approach with Volkswagen announcing its own battery plans.  VW may invest up to $15.5 billion according to Tech News, the outlet projecting the highest number.  Others with less money but promising technologies are also betting on better batteries. Tesla Gigafactory Grand Opening – More to Come With only 14 percent of its total area completed, the Tesla Gigafactory on Electric Avenue (what else?) near Sparks, Nevada, is already up and running, producing Tesla’s Powerwall and Powerpack battery systems.  According to Teslarati.com, “Elon Musk told investors at the 4th quarter earnings call earlier this …

Cambridge Crude Reborn in Simplified Battery

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

We first saw the appellation, “24M” four years ago in our report on research done at MIT to produce an ionic liquid called “Cambridge Crude,” usable in flow batteries.   Dr. Yet-Ming Chiang headed up that work in collaboration with Professors Angela Belcher and Paula Hammond at MIT and Glenn Amatucci at Rutgers, among others.  They formed a commercial spinoff and seemingly went underground for the next four years. Dr. Chiang and his associates had previously gone commercial with A123, which went through the trial of bankruptcy and being acquired by overseas investors.  It’s now solvent and looking to double output.  24M is a spin-off of A123. We found that Professor Chiang had resurfaced when friend and blog reader Marshall Houston …

Will VW Take on Tesla?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Volkswagen just bought a five-percent stake in a startup company called QuantumScape, a commercial spinoff of work done at Stanford University’s Nanoscale Prototyping Laboratory for Energy Conversion and Storage.  The Labroratory’s head, Fritz B. Prinz, Finmeccanica Professor of Engineering and Robert Bosch Chairman of Mechanical Engineering, explains: “Our team creates, models, and prototypes nanoscale structures to understand the physics of electrical energy conversion and storage. We are exploring the relation between size, composition, and the kinetics of charge transfer. We are also interested in learning from nature, in particular by studying the electron transport chain in plant cells.” (Note that the QuantumScape web site is curiously without detail, showing only four pretty pictures and making three or four non-controversial statements. …

Hydrogen: Are We There Yet?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Probably not, but we are edging closer to when H2-powered vehicles (including small aircraft) might be as ubiquitous as Prius’s or Leafs – but there are significant barriers to overcome. Fuel cell-powered aircraft might make sense eventually from a physical and economic sense, and while new technologies show promise for EV use, hydrogen power still has barriers to overcome before we’re able to exploit the environmental benefits of hydrogen power.  The appeal of a fuel cell to burn hydrogen and leave behind only a light mist of water still dazzles, but teasingly eludes us, not so much from a technical standpoint – but from environmental and economic ones. Two Most Practical Fuel Cells for Transportation Fuel cells come in many …

Batteries, Fuel Cells – or Something Else?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

We’re coming to a parting of the ways in energy storage development for electric cars.  Or we may be coming to a joining of technologies in new and previously unimagined ways.  One side, led by Elon Musk and his Tesla Empire, promotes battery power and development.  Yet, in Tesla’s home state of California, government and private investments in hydrogen vehicles is growing.   Several Asian and European automakers are bringing out fuel cell powered vehicles in the face of low numbers of existing fueling stations.  For all the promotion from either side, future “green” cars may become too expensive for private ownership, and various approaches to providing personal mobility may replace the traditional owner-driver model.  Regardless of the outcomes or market …

While EV Battery Costs Decline, Repurposing Adds Life

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Cleantechnica has heartening news from the Bloomberg New Energy Finance report.  Battery prices for electric vehicles, a key factor thus far in keeping electric cars more expensive to buy than smoggier alternatives, are dropping, and somewhat quickly. “According to an April 2012 Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, the average price of batteries used in electric vehicles dropped 14% from Q1 2011 to Q1 2012. ‘The average price of an EV battery at the end of Q1 2012 was $689 per kilowatt hour, compared to $800 per kilowatt hour in 2011, according to that report. “Compared to 2009, prices were down approximately 30%. “By 2030, BNEF projects battery prices will fall to $150/kWh (in 2012 dollars).” The report explains, “Electric vehicles such as the Mitsubishi Motor …