Cambridge, MIT Chasing Room-Temperature Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

News from Cambridge University shows some promise for inexpensive production of hydrogen, an elusive process considering the lightest element in creation is also the most common, said to make up 90 percent of the visible universe.  On earth, it readily combines with oxygen to form water, a handy thing to have around for the benefit of our species. Getting hydrogen out of the water so that we can burn it in our cars and airplanes is a frustrating process, though, often requiring more energy for the extraction than can be obtained from its combustion. According the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “To make [hydrogen] usable in fuel cells or otherwise provide energy, we must expend energy or modify another energy source …

Keeping a UAV Aloft for 48 Hours – On Laser Power

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Lockheed Martin and LaserMotive recently managed to keep a drone, the Stalker Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), flying for 48 hours on a laser-guided recharging system.  Its on-board batteries can maintain flight for two hours, so the demonstration improves endurance by 2,400 percent. Your editor admits to possibly over-healthy skepticism regarding transmittal of power to aircraft, remembering early NASA demonstrations that were noisy and more lightning-like than focused.  LaserMotive’s technology seems to overcome these objections. Stalker is described by Lockheed-Martin as “a small, silent UAS used by Special Operations Forces since 2006 to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.”  The miniature plane  weighs a little over six kilograms (13.2 pounds) and has a wing span of three meters (9.84 feet).  As shown …

The Happiest Materials Scientist

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

According to his NASA biography, “Dr. Ajay Misra, a member of the Senior Executive Service, is Chief of the Structures and Materials Division in the Research & Technology Directorate at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.  In this position, Dr. Misra has the responsibility for planning, advocating, coordinating, organizing, directing and supervising all phases of Division research and business activities.”  At the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium in Rohnert Park, California in April 2010, Dr. Misra was among the most charming and happiest of presenters – probably because he had so many happy things to talk about.  Much of the joy comes from the continuing revelations about the characteristics of carbon and boron nanotubes.  They turn out to …

Man of La Manche

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

The French call the English Channel “la Manche” (the sleeve), nicely describing the shape of the waterway  while neatly avoiding calling it “English.” Gerard Thevenot, a long-time championship-level hang-glider pilot, celebrated the centennial of Louis Bleriot’s flight across la Manche by flying his hydrogen-powered La Mouette hang glider over roughly the same route Bleriot took between Calais and Dover on August 6, 2009.  Missing the centenary by a few days (Bleriot made the hop on July 25, 1909), Thevenot took an hour and seven minutes to duplicate the trip Bleriot managed in 37 minutes. Having displayed his craft at Aero Expo 2009 at Friedrichshafen, Germany in April, Thevenot also participated in the Coupe-Icare, an aeronautical-artistic fantasia near Grenoble, France before making his …