Thinner than Kleenex®, as Powerful as the Sun

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

David L. Chandler of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) News Office reports that an MIT research team headed by Jeffrey Grossman has found a way to make sheets that push “towards the ultimate power conversion from a material” for solar power.  His team has managed to fabricate molecule-thick photovoltaic sheets which could pack hundreds of times more power per weight than conventional solar cells. Senior author of a new paper on the team’s study in Nano Letters, Grossman found that despite the interest in two-dimensional materials such as graphene – only an atom thick – few have studied their potential for solar applications.  Grossman says, “They’re not only OK, but it’s amazing how well they do.” Stacking sheets of …

The Two-Day Electric Airplane

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Imagine being confronted with a challenge to create an electric airplane in 48 hours, being filmed for much of those two days regardless of the frustrations or successes that come, and knowing that the entire adventure will be shown on the National Geographic Channel.   Robert Baslee’s Dream Fantasy ultralight, converted to electric power for a National Geographic TV series Robert Baslee, who runs Airdrome Aeroplanes in Holden, Missouri,  has the kinds of experience that makes such a challenge plausible.  He built four Nieuport fighters for the movie Flyboys in 52 days with a small, dedicated crew, for instance. His wife and he supplied vintage-looking aircraft to the making of the film Amelia.  He markets a growing range of WWI airplanes in …

Lifting Yourself by a Disappearing Thread

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The University of Maryland announced the successful 11.4 second flight of an American human-powered helicopter with a female pilot – now the National record holder and successor to the first female flight on such a machine – 17 years ago. In 1994, your editor attended a human-powered aircraft symposium in Seattle at the Boeing Museum of Flight. Paul MacCready signed my copy of Gossamer Odyssey and I was official observer (for Chris Roper of the Royal Aeronautical Society) of the first female-powered helicopter flight.  Ward Griffiths, a svelte young thing from a local bike shop, cranked the very similar (to Gamera) thing into the air for 8.6 seconds – a first and a female record at that time.  A Japanese gentleman had …