EAS VIII: Ultra High Energy Density Lithium Battery

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Qichao Hu is ​Cofounder, President and interim CEO of SolidEnergy, a battery company with a different technology and a unique business plan.  According to his company’s web site, he “Cofounded SolidEnergy while a PhD student at MIT, and led it through early stage business plan competition, fundraising, licensing and collaboration negotiation, and technology development. 2012 Forbes 30 Under 30 in Energy, and is a graduate of MIT and Harvard University.”  His team was also the Deployment and Infrastructure Category Winner in the 2012 MIT Clean Energy Prize competition. In his presentation to the eighth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium on April 25, Hu told about his Waltham, Massachusetts startup’s strategic partnership with A123, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory.  …

EAS VIII – A Day and a Half You’ll Never Forget

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Who would pass up a chance to stay at a nice resort, attend lectures that challenge and inspire, and meet at poolside with speakers who bring some of the sharpest minds in the world to bear on some of the biggest problems we all face?  Let’s face it.  Global warming probably won’t be going away anytime soon, and aviation seems destined to play a bigger part in polluting our otherwise near-perfect atmosphere. Unless…we learn how to make our favorite activity (in the top five for most of us, anyway), into a more responsible way to travel and recreate.  Since solving the problems which go with that responsibility will involve the best in aerodynamics, power systems and new, efficient technology, the …

Angela Belcher Continues Making Batteries with Viruses

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Three years ago, in one of our earliest entries, this blog reported on the blending of biology and chemistry in a bionic battery created by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Angela Belcher. She was honored with a press briefing with President Obama, MIT President Susan Hockfield and her prototype battery, and used the occasion to encourage federal funding for such ventures.  In a later visit to her laboratory, the President accepted a business card with the periodic table, saying he would consult it periodically. She has turned her bionic battery research to improving the chances for lithium-air batteries to reach that magic 500-mile figure ( or at least 550 kilometers or 341 miles), and has explained her approach and progress …

SolidEnergy Teams with A123 for High Energy Density Battery

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Take two Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) business incubator realizations, mix their strengths and watch for the potential breakthroughs that could come in the form of high-energy-density batteries. According to its web site, “SolidEnergy is developing a safe, high energy density, and wide temperature capable rechargeable battery that has the potential to transform the consumer electronics, electric vehicle, and downhole exploration (as in well drilling) industries. The core technology is called a Solid Polymer Ionic Liquid (SPIL) lithium metal battery.” Founded in 2012, “one of the toughest years in the battery industry,” SolidEnergy’s “…objective is to develop an insanely great next generation battery and commercialize it in the fastest and most efficient way.” This decidedly brash approach needs a steadying hand at …

Lighter, Stronger, and Morphable

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

If you have a pre-teen roaming around the house, you more than likely know the shared delight of assembling the biggest possible thing you can make from Lego® blocks.  There must be something of that delight in the Center for Bits and Atoms at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). There, researchers have invented, “A new approach to assembling big structures — even airplanes and bridges — out of small interlocking composite components,” according to a story by David L. Chandler of the MIT News Office. Neil Gershenfeld, director of the Center, and post-doctoral student Kenneth Cheung recently co-authored a paper published in the journal Science, in which they describe assembling strong lightweight structures with “cubocts,” lattice structures that are …

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 …

Making Graphene and Carbon Fibers Even Lighter and Stronger

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

While scientists at Columbia University have used chemical vapor deposition (CVD) to create large sheets of stronger-than-average graphene, a research team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found ways to weave stronger carbon nanotubes. James Hone and Jeffrey Kysar, professors of mechanical engineering at Columbia University, learned that the enormous strength of graphene is usually achieved in only small patches.  The “grain boundaries” for larger sheets were often far weaker than the theoretical strengths of which the material is capable. That strength is phenomenal.  Hone explains, “It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap.” Results of their study were published in the journal Science. The paper’s …

Ionic Thrusters Offer Quiet Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Feedback, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Gizmag and Science Daily both covered a propulsion system that’s been with us for many decades, but which is just now seeing practical applications in space flight, and may be adapted to terrestrial winged vehicles. Your editor might have passed it over as overhyped, but the research came from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and was published in The Proceeding of the Royal Academy – two good indicators of veracity. Jennifer Chu of MIT’s News Office explains, “When a current passes between two electrodes — one thinner than the other — it creates a wind in the air between. If enough voltage is applied, the resulting wind can produce a thrust without the help of motors or fuel.”  That …

On a Clear Day, I Can See My iPad

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Brien Seeley, President of the CAFE Foundation, shared the news of an exciting breakthrough that could make the see-through parts of an airplane’s solar collectors.  Most solar collectors have a black or near-black look because they are absorbing light in the visible spectrum.  Pulling energy from infrared or ultraviolet spectra invisible to the human eye allows Ubiquitous Energy’s Clearview Power translucent film of to be laid over iPad and Kindle screens and keep them charged constantly. Consider the possibilities of such films covering the Plexiglas or carbonate canopies on aircraft.  Even those portions could then be energy collectors.  On craft such as electric sustainer motor powered sailplanes, the glazed area comprises a large part of the total fuselage surface …

New “Leaf” Turns Over More Energy

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Scientists have been working on imitating nature’s ability to photosynthesize the sun’s energy, much as plants turn that energy into food for their health and growth.  Daniel Nocera, for instance, created an artificial leaf that split water into oxygen and hydrogen that could fire up a small fuel cell and run an electric light.  According to a Science Pub lecture your editor recently attended, an eight-ounce glass of water can power a 60-Watt bulb for 20 hours.  Nocera, in a Pop! Tech talk, claims an Olympic-size swimming pool could supply all the world’s energy needs. Nocera now works at Harvard, but researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), his former home, are taking his work further, detailing all the limitations …