Oxis Energy and Lithium Sulfur Batteries

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Taking one last look at 2011’s fifth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, your editor regrets the fits and starts in its coverage. Next week, we’ll begin looking at the extraordinary presentations from this year’s gathering. Huw W. Hampton-Jones from Oxis Energy, a British company developing a Lithium Sulfur battery, claimed his firm’s “technology is based around the use of Lithium Sulphur to produce batteries which are superior in terms of energy, weight, cycle life, costs, ageing and safety.” Lithium sulfur is well known in military circles for providing primary (non-rechargeable) power to field operations.  Perlan I flew with SAFT 5590 primary batteries, partly because of their superior energy density compared to lithium-ion cells, and partly because of their greater resistance to …

David Birkenstock and Ultimate Efficiency

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

According to his biography on Airliners.net, “David Birkenstock is a pilot for an east-coast charter and management firm, flying the Turbo Commander 690B and the BeechJet 400A. When he’s not flying, he’s working on modifying a light sport airplane for pressure thrust, hoping to enter it into the NASA Personal Air Vehicle Challenge. He has posted more information about pressure thrust at PressureThrust.com.” Birkenstock’s presentation at the fifth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium in Santa Rosa, California on April 29, 2011 extended his thoughts on pressure thrust, an outgrowth of Fabio Goldschmied’s theories that are well represented in the CAFE Foundation’s library. Most surprising (or maybe not surprising at all) in his talk were comments by major players in the aerospace …

Electric, Small, and Challenging

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Dr. Ilan Kroo, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford and designer of the Swift ultralight hang glider, among others, has a different kind of mission – that of reshaping small aircraft for the greatest efficiency. Lessons learned from light aircraft can be applied on a larger scale – but keeping it simple and light to begin with allows less expensive learning, according to Kroo. The outline for his presentation at the fifth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium in Santa Rosa, California on April 29, 2011 is instructive. He had three major topics, all repeating the title for his talk; “Design Concepts for Small Electric Aircraft.” The first topic emphasized the word, “Electric,” the second, “Small,” and the third, “Design …

Synergy: A Practical Lightplane for the New Century

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

At EAS V, Synergy Chief Operating Officer John Paul Noyes framed his presentation of the Synergy aircraft by showing a picture of a 1973 portable telephone, then comparing it to a current model.  The clunky size, heft and limited utility of the former compared with its slim, feature-laden modern counterpart tells a story of intense design improvements, quantum increases in capabilities and far lower costs for a significantly better product – something usually anticipated in the history of modern products. Along with that historically comparative pairing, though, he showed pictures of a 1973 Cessna 182 and its Lycoming engine along with shots of modern examples of the two.  Not much other than the paint scheme distinguishes today’s Skylane from its …

Pipistrel’s Four-seat, Side-by-side Electric Airplane

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

One of the most anticipated presentations at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium in Santa Rosa, California, April 29th and 30th, was that of the CAFE Foundation’s Vice-President, Larry Ford.  He had the enviable task of unveiling the contenders in the Green Flight Challenge – a mix of conventional aircraft powered by unconventional means, unconventional craft being sent aloft by a variety of the mundane and the exotic, and wildly unconventional concatenations of technologies. Pipistrel’s G4 turned out to be simple math: G2 plus G2 equals G4.  The configuration could hardly be preconceived, though.  According to Pipistrel USA’s Michael Coates, “This unique design has come about by grafting two Pipistrel Taurus aircraft together with a center section which is some 5 meters (16 …

Phoenix or PhoEnix – a Nice Airplane

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

While at Sun n’ Fun in Lakeland, Florida, we couldn’t help but notice Jim Lee’s Phoenix Air Phoenix, an S-LSA (Special Light Sport Aircraft) motorglider from the Czech Republic, posed as it was on the line of march into the air show area proper. Your editor was interested in the PhoEnix, the electric version of the proper looking and highly attractive Rotax-powered version in the Light Sport Aircraft display display, next to its Pipistrel neighbors.  There were a great many middle European LSAs being shown, but the Phoenix had ended up on the Airshow’s promotional poster, neatly avoiding the FA-18s of the Blue Angels. The electric version will be competing in the Green Flight Challenge, so revelations from Jim Lee, …

Are Wind Turbines Bad for Aviation?

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

It would be a supreme irony if a part of environmentally-positive power production halted the possibility of “green” aviation by making it unsafe to be in the skies.  Luckily, this might not be the major problem some perceive, and solutions are in place or being developed.   For a brief time last April the United States Air Force held up construction of an eastern Oregon wind farm that will be the largest in America.  Concerned with the possible interference that 300 new giant wind turbines might cause for radar station transmissions in an otherwise remote part of the state, the Air Force stepped in.  That was a short-lived interruption, with Oregon’s Senators countering with concerns about the 706 jobs, $130 million in taxes to local …

5th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium Launches New Age of Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Dr. Brien Seeley, founder and President of the CAFE Foundation, shares this important news. SANTA ROSA, CA.—On April 29-30, 2011, an outstanding faculty from NASA, industry and academia will present the technologies necessary to inaugurate the Age of Electric Flight.  The 5th Annual CAFE Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS V) will reveal how safe, emission-free, 2-4 seat electric aircraft could soon make a doorstep-to-doorstep round trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles on a single battery charge at nearly twice the overall trip speed of airline travel.  The latest breakthroughs in energy storage, motors, quiet propulsion, powered lift, electronic pilot assistance, autonomous flight and aerodynamics will be presented along with proposals for how they can transform transportation. EAS V will again network …