Carbon Fiber and the Grand Unified Airplane

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Your editor has long held the belief that we are on the threshold of creating a Grand Unified Airplane, a craft that would draw all its energy from solar cells, the flexing of its wings, the air passing over its form, and the very act of flight itself.  It seems to become less of a science fiction ideal and more of real-world possibility every day.  Carbon fiber could be part of that possibility. What if your airplane were its own battery?  Think of the weight savings and potential endurance and range.  Your editor became fascinated with 2010 research done by Dr. Emile Greenhalgh of Imperial University in London, who developed a structural sandwich with carbon fiber outer layers and a …

Running a Mile in Very New Shoes

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The Lola-Drayson LeMans Prototype (LMP) did not make it to this year’s LeMans race at the Sarthe track, but did make its racing debut at another prestigious motorsports event – the Goodwood Festival of Speed Hill Climb in England.  Nowhere near as long or treacherous as America’s Pikes Peak event, the race is a good test of acceleration, handling and sheer power, which the car displayed with great style. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sd-vAq4IDRA Lord Paul Drayson, a former science advisor to the Crown, drove the B12/69EV, a car crammed with new technologies, many of which have been reported on in this blog, and which have potential applications in aircraft.  He also set a new record for electric cars in the climb, doing a …

Combining the Best of Batteries and Supercapacitors

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The CAFE Blog has been tracking developments in batteries and supercapacitors for nearly the last two years, and the annual Electric Aircraft Symposia have attracted speakers on a wide range of innovations in these areas.  Gizmag reminded us this week how much all of this may soon affect the ability of energy storage and power devices to change our world. Their report highlighted work on an energy storage system that combines the energy capacity of batteries with the power density and quick recharging capabilities of capacitors being done at Rice University, and linked that to research at the University of Illinois by Dr. Paul Braun on creating faster charging batteries with higher energy densities than currently possible.  Gizmag then did a …

Two Great (Mostly) Gasless Road Trips

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants Leave a Comment

A group of Italian engineers is embarking on a 13,000 kilometer (8,000 mile) road trip from Italy to Shanghai, China, retracing Marco Polo’s route.  The vehicles are central to this adventure, though – two pairs of bright orange Piaggio Porter vans, (mostly) driverless and running on stored electricity and sunlight.  With sensors and cameras nestled under their solar panel roof racks and control by a Vislab system, the two pairs of vehicles will be as autonomous as possible, even though a human will be in the driver’s seat to take over in an emergency and another technician will be on board to help with repairs.   Another pair of guide vehicles will lead the way for each pair of autonomous vehicles, and several other support …