Zeppelins, Blimps and Plimps

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

How about exploring a softer, gentler form of flight?  Certainly, gas-filled envelopes provide a large way to transport goods and people, but for a variety of reasons, have fallen out of favor in recent years.  Several entrepreneurs are trying to revive an old idea. Hanging Over Our Heads One threat hanging over our heads is that of plummeting drones, either having exhausted their short-range batteries or banging up against a tall building.  The infamous video of a drone falling onto a woman in Seattle has been removed from YouTube, probably for legal reasons, but an abundance of others are there for your viewing pleasure. Maybe More Truth than Poetry Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote a prescient bit of poetry in 1835, …

EAS IX:  Materials Design for Battery Breakthroughs

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Yi Cui’s presentation title ended with, “from Fundamental Science to Commercialization,” an indication of the long, tough road that new developments are forced to take.  Considering that Sony introduced the Lithium battery as a commercial entity in 1991 (and that following at least an 18-year slog from laboratory to mass production), mostly incremental changes have come for the chemistry, echoing Dr. Cui’s pronouncement at EAS III that lithium batteries followed a “growth curve” of about eight percent per year, meaning that about every nine years, they should double in performance. Cui’s estimate has been borne out in reality, Nature magazine reporting in 2014, “Modern Li-ion batteries hold more than twice as much energy by weight as the first commercial …

Solar Impulse 2 in Readiness for Around-the-World Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Reassembled and ready, Solar Impulse 2 stands ready to leave Abu Dhabi on an historic around-the-world flight within the next month, according to the project’s latest announcements.  When HB-SIB leaves Abu Dhabi, it will cross two oceans and four continents before returning to its departure point.  The trip will include landings in 12 locations and a total distance of 35,000 kilometers (21,700 miles) – all without using a drop of fuel. Its route and schedule will be affected by weather, and since the airplane will fly at only 27 miles per hour at night to conserve battery energy, by prevailing winds.  Normal flight speeds will range from 50 to 100 kilometers per hour (31 to 62 mph). The press release …

Unique, From A (for Aerodynamics) to Zee

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Ilan Kroo, according to his biography page, is a Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at Stanford University, an advanced cross-country hang glider pilot, and designer of the Swift flying wing hang glider, unmanned aerial vehicles, a flying Pterosaur replica, America’s Cup sailboats, and high-speed research aircraft.  Currently on a leave of absence from Stanford, he has started Zee Aero, “a bay area start-up company focusing on bringing new technologies to civil aircraft.” Zee Aero, on its first of five sparse web pages, proclaims, “We’re creating an entirely new aircraft,” a heady claim considering the lack of supporting descriptions or illustrations.  But other sources have been made available, including Zee’s patent applications, which show a slim tricycle-gear fuselage surmounted by variously …

FAA Awards for Commuter Liners of the Future

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

In a series of far-reaching competitions for university students, the FAA has opened the gates on innovation for new aircraft and airport infrastructure design. Announcing the winners of its Design Competition for Universities, the FAA awarded three prizes in the Electric/Hybrid Electric Aircraft Competition.  In doing so, it acknowledged the pioneering work of the CAFE Foundation and NASA in promoting the original Green Flight Challenge, generously supported by sponsorship from Google. “Recently, the Green Flight Challenge and efforts of general aviation manufacturers and others have demonstrated flight using electric motors on general aviation aircraft. Under NASA’s Subsonic Fixed Wing Project, aircraft and engine manufacturers identified key technology capabilities required for electric and hybrid-electric propulsion of single aisle aircraft, expected by …

Pipistrel G4 Nominated for Collier Trophy

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Taja Boscarol, Public Relations Manager for Pipistrel, sends this news today: “The Pipistrel Taurus G4, world’s first 4-seat electric aircraft, was nominated for the prestigious Collier Trophy. “The Collier Trophy, the ‘Greatest Award in Aviation,’ has been the benchmark of aviation and aerospace achievement for over 100 years.  Awarded annually, ‘…for the greatest achievement in aeronautics or astronautics in America,’ it has been bestowed upon some of the most important projects, programs, individuals, and accomplishments in our nation’s history.” Collier-winning individuals have included the crews of Apollo 11 and 8, Mercury 7, Scott Crossfield, Elmer Sperry and Howard Hughes.  Projects and Programs have included the B-52, Polaris Missile, Surveyor Moon Landing Program, Boeing 747, Cessna Citation, Gulfstream V, the F-22 …

NASA Adds Some Numbers to Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

NASA’s Mark Moore sends this link to NASA’s press release on the recent NASA Centennial Challenge Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google.  The CAFE Foundation organized and managed the event. “Today we’ve shown that electric aircraft have moved beyond science fiction and are now in the realm of practice.” – Chief technologist at NASA Joe Parrish. The lead quote is informative, as are some figures from the release.  “The competition resulted in the world’s most efficient aircraft, beating the state of the art of approximately 100 pmpg (passenger miles per gallon) which is achieved by the newly released Boeing 787 airliner.  Essentially this contest showed the ability of small aircraft to achieve twice the efficiency of the most efficient production automobiles today, …

Green Flight Challenge – Day One

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation

  Sunday, September 25 marked the kickoff of the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google, a NASA Centennial Challenge managed by the CAFE Foundation, with a thorough technical inspection for each entrant, followed by a weigh-in.  Held at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, the event is an event of international importance, despite the small turnout. With only four entrants making an appearance out of the original 13 that had announced and made it through the rigorous design review, there might be cause for disappointment. Consider, though, the Berblinger competition held in April at the Aero Expo in Friedrichshafen, Germany. 36 teams signed up, 24 made it to the Expo, 13 started the course and eight finished. The GFC has a comparable start-finish …

Saving the Air While Saving Crops

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

AvWeb this morning reports on a “highly cost-effective” way to make jet biofuel from renewable materials.  According to AvWeb, San Francisco-based, “AliphaJet said its catalytic method uses materials derived from plants and animals such as triglycerides and fatty acids.  ‘Our strategy fundamentally improves the economics of making 100-percent drop-in renewable jet biofuel,’ said Jack Oswald, CEO of AliphaJet. ‘Our approach is radically different and unlocks a new industry that can meet the U.S. Navy’s goal of replacing 50 percent of its liquid fuels with renewables by 2020.’ “AliphaJet said its catalytic de-oxygenation process ‘significantly reduces capital and operating costs’ because it does not require the use of hydrogen in processing. That means the processing plant can be less complex, reducing …

A Seraph in the Earthly Sphere

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

A Seraph is a six-winged angel in the first sphere of the celestial hierarchy, and while the earthly form in Richard Ike and Ira Munn’s vision may have fewer wings, it is no less inspired. In part, it’s inspired by biomimicry, imitating nature in its forms and even its structure.  The  airfoil-shaped profile of the fuselage “reduce[s] drag and optimize[s] aerodynamic efficiency, the blended-wing-body and lifting body (flying fuselage) maximize lift and produce minimum drag, according to Seraph’s web site. Seraph explains, “Flight with the Seraph will be made possible by two factors, lift generated by airfoil and lift generated by vortex.  The later factor is a return to a principle originally explored by Leonardo Da Vinci.”  Their site further …