Recycling and Reusing Carbon in Jet Fuel

Dean Sigler Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

ETH Zurich (the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), is recycling and reusing CO2 to make jet fuel as part of a carbon-neutral process.  This is not a new idea, with others’ approaches to this detailed in earlier blog entries here, here, and here. Centered on a solar collector/reactor on the roof of ETH’s Machine Laboratory building in Zurich, researchers have “developed a novel technology that produces liquid hydrocarbon fuels exclusively from sunlight and air and have demonstrated the entire thermochemical process chain under real field conditions.” Extracting CO2 and water directly from ambient air through an adsorption/desorpton process, the system feeds these free materials into a solar reactor that is at the focus of the parabolic reflector that heats them …

400 Watt-Hours per Kilogram by 2014

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

On its web site, the company boasts, “OXIS Energy is leading the World with its latest cell Energy Density and Capacity,” and proceeds to announce that it’s “developed its largest Lithium Sulfur cell achieving in excess of 300 [Watt-hours per kilogram]. This outperforms Lithium ion technology that has dominated the performance battery market for many years. In addition OXIS has achieved an increase in cell capacity to a 25 Amp-hour (Ah) cell – a world first.”  They’re working toward a 33Ah cell. Claiming a twelve-fold improvement in the last 18 months, OXIS, a British battery manufacturer, says it has the confidence to “achieve a cell capacity of 33Ah by mid 2015.”  The firm has hopes of energy densities “in excess …

Graphene 3D Lab’s Graphene Filaments Work Magic

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Graphene 3D Lab, Inc. has demonstrated that graphene can be easily mixed with thermoplastics commonly used in fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printers. The company has demonstrated a mixture of plastics and graphene that can be turned into nanocomposite material filament which can then be used within any standard FDM 3D printer.  They have managed to craft a functioning battery which may be incorporated into a 3D printed object during printing. These filaments show good thermal and electrical conductivity and are shown in the video forming a 3D printed battery. Different components require separate “printings” at present, but company CEO Dr. Daniel Stolyarov explains that future iterations of the process will be able to simultaneously produce multiple material parts.  His corporate …

Load-Bearing Supercapacitors

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

What if your battery served also as a wing or a fuselage?  Several current efforts converge on creating batteries or supercapacitors that could function as structural elements in electric vehicles.  We’ve reported on this before, with efforts by Dr. Emil Greenhalgh at Imperial College London and associated work by Volvo to make car components from the type of energy storing sandwich structure he developed.  Your editor’s article on the “Grand Unified Airplane” in the July 2013 issue of Kitplanes magazine advanced the idea that such structures, coupled with graphene’s projected capabilities to collect solar energy, could lead to a self-powering aircraft.  (In researching the current entry, he found that his idea had been done at model scale by BAE.) Reports …

Conventional Batteries “A Thing of the Past?”

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Volvo Car Group has announced their development of what they term, “A revolutionary concept for lightweight structural energy storage components that could improve the energy usage of future electrified vehicles.”   Using carbon fiber and other composite materials to make batteries and supercapacitors within structural panels, Volvo hopes to offer “lighter energy storage that requires less space in the car, cost effective structure options and is eco-friendly.” This blog reported on earlier efforts by Dr. Emile Greenhalgh at Imperial College in London, working on creating energy storage with simple carbon-fiber/fiberglass/carbon-fiber sandwiches as an academic lead partner with Volvo.  His work is directed toward creating structural supercapacitors, while efforts at Volvo in Sweden, led by Per-Ivar Sellergren and working with his nearly …

Tripling Battery Range and Quelling Anxieties – Or Adding to Them?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 1 Comment

Having recently been allowed a test drive in a Nissan Leaf , in which the late autumn leaves falling on the car made more noise than the car, I was taken by the quiet, the reasonable performance, and general sense of how much more refined everything is than on my well-worn 1995 internal-combustion vehicle.  Cars are indeed getting better, but an issue remains with electric cars and airplanes – range.  The Nissan representatives, a lively bunch of presenters who took prospective drivers through a “pre-flight” education program, admitted that shortcoming, and promised a coming series of charging stations dotting the I-5 from Canada to Mexico at 100-mile intervals, the demonstrated range for the Leaf. Israeli entrepreneur Shai Agassi has come up …

RGE Enters Ushuaia

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

Imperial College London’s Racing Green Endurance team has ended a 70-day adventure driving the length of the Pan-American Highway from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, capitol of Argentina’s  Tierra del Fuego province, and southernmost city in the world.  The 26,000 kilometer (16,120 mile) trip had moments of mechanical difficulties and some days of struggle.  The electric supercar was stopped numerous times, sometimes for pushing speed limits, but often to satisfy  police officers’ curiosity. Alexander Schey, M Eng in mechanical engineering and instigator of the trip, reports on his final hours on the journey with his co-driver, Toby Schulz, also an M Eng. “Finally I have a few moments to write the blog I have most been looking forward to write! …

Where Are They Now? Part Two

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

This blog has been following two intrepid groups exploring new geographical and technical terrain.  Both have been slowed by mechanical difficulties and sometime bureaucratic entanglements, but are making up for lost time. London’s Imperial College Racing Green Endurance (RGE) team is driving an electric supercar from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, the world’s most southernmost city.  Their trek down the Pan-American Highway is about 70-percent done and mobile again following their recent enforced layover in Quito, Ecuador.  They have been stopped 29 times by police in North, Central, and South America, with many stops more to satisfy the curiosity of the local gendarmes than to enforce repentance of  negligence toward the traffic code.  Their Thunder Sky batteries and EVO motors have been …

Twice Around London – Without Recharging

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

On May 27, Imperial College students driving their electric race car around the M25 orbital road that cirles London looked more like ninja thieves (because of headgear that protected them from early morning breezes) headed toward a convenience store than serious test drivers, but their mission was far more benign than their appearance. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-MkZlb29ge8 Their mount, a white and green two-seater that looks more destined for LeMans fame than for ecological breakthroughs, was the RGE (Racing Green Endurance) based on a Radical Sportscars SR8 chassis. Its power comes from two Evo-Electric motors each with a motor controller, propelled by a Thunder Sky 56 kWh battery pack and monitored by a National Instruments CompactRio unit which combines management of the motor control …

Structures as Batteries – or Is It Batteries as Structures?

Dean Sigler Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Imperial College London and its partners, including Volvo, have announced a  £3.4 million (about $5.44 million) project to develop a new energy storage material that could act as a structural material in cars.  The lightweight, carbon-fiber-based material could replace traditional materials in the car’s structure while storing electrical energy.  This dual-purpose material could save the weight of separate batteries, increase the strength of the car’s structure, and improve overall vehicle performance. Dr. Emile Greenhalgh, of the College’s Aeronatical Department, and coordinator of the project, sees other opportunities for this material. “We are really excited about the potential of this new technology. We think the car of the future could be drawing power from its roof, its bonnet (editor’s note: hood, to you Yanks.) or even the …