Solar Sails for Ultralights?

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

Ultralights have done many spectacular things, including topping Mt. Everest and crossing the English Channel.  Gerard Thevenot flew the Channel under a La Mouette wing powered by an Eck/Geiger motor driven by three fuel cells in 2009 – six years before the recent flights with faster electric craft.  For that matter, Paul MacCready and his team flew a solar-powered aircraft from near Paris to an RAF runway on the eastern English coast in 1981. Hang gliders, paramotors, and other rigid and non-rigid-wing craft might benefit from new sailcloth that incorporates flexible solar cells into its makeup.  Used on sailboats, the solar fabric helps run auxiliary motors and can help extend the cruising range of a boat when the sails are …

A Layer of Graphene, A Layer of Nanowires…

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Combine nano-anything with graphene, and that seems to describe most of what’s driving physics and chemistry laboratories at our major universities.  The blog reported last week on Princeton researchers who’ve created a thin, flexible solar cell that absorbs 96-percent of received light and draws energy from off-axis and varied wavelengths of light. MIT researchers, too, have created a thin, flexible solar cell, but one based on layers of flexible graphene sheets, each coated with a layer of nanowires.  Besides flexibility, these sheets offer transparency, enabling their use on windows as well as other surfaces. David Chandler, reporting for MIT states that the new cells may prove to be far less expensive than today’s silicon equivalents, which require high-purity silicon that undergoes crystallization …