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 …

Deturbulating a Record Flight

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Sumon K. Sinha, Ph.D., P.E., and head of Sinhatech, had a part in the recent Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) record by Mr. Jean-Luc Soullier and recorded in a blog entry on March 10. Dr. Sinha wrote that, “CAFE Foundation’s Blog on March 10th, 2012 did not mention that the Colomban MC-30 aircraft had Sinhatech’s Deturbulator tape treatment on the wing upper surface as shown in the attached photograph. I would like to have this added to complete the description of the aircraft.” Sinhatech Deturbulator tape is an innocuous-looking strip applied along the span of a wing at a point which will trigger a response from the tape, which oscillates in the airflow, increasing lift and mitigating skin friction, according to …

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 …

Matters of Note for the Green Flight Expo

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

One humanitarian business organization that will display at the Green Flight Expo following the completion of that seven-day event uses the type of technology the CAFE Foundation espouses for carrying medicines and supplies to remote parts of the third world that otherwise do not easily permit transport of any kind. Matternet’s slogan, “Lifting the Rising Billion” refers to those living primarily in Africa and is explained in their statement of belief.  “By increasing the access to reliable transportation for people living in poverty, we will enable them to find a sustainable path out of poverty. “We will connect people from geographically isolated communities to local and global markets through the Matternet.”  This credo applies to poor communities throughout the world, …

The G4 Gets Off the Grass

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Pipistrel had a good week at Oshkosh.  Shortly after its G4 placed ninth in the Dead Grass Awards, an indication of the number of spectators who tramped around the perimeter of the displayed aircraft,  the company could announce the first test flight of the four-seat electric motorglider. “We are pleased to announce that after long and demanding work nearly of a nearly 30-member team of developers and constructors from Pipistrel’s R & D Institute the first 4-seat electric aircraft in the world took off this morning [August 12, 2011] at 7 AM local time.” Pipistrel overcame several difficulties in achieving this milestone.  Developing the electric power system, the most powerful currently in an aircraft, and importing the 450 pounds of …

If You Can Draw It, We Can Print It – In 3D

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Students and faculty at the University of Southampton on the southern English coast have created an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) in just a week, from the initial design to the finished, flying object. “Printed” from nylon on an EOS EOSINT P730 nylon laser sintering machine, the plane emerges from the device in successive layers and comes with hinges already in place, emulating the bearings, crank and headset-in-place bicycle recently produced by EADS (Airbus) using similar technology and materials. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFFFiB_if18 Part of a “ground-breaking” course of study “which enables students to take a Master’s Degree in unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV) design,” the Southampton University Layer Sintered Aircraft (SULSA) can be snap-fitted together in minutes without tools. SULSA has a 2-meter (6.4 …

The Verticopter® , an Adaptable and Expandable Convertiplane

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Oliver Garrow, founder, designer, and President of Garrow Aircraft LLC, says it right up front, “My design is completely counterintuitive.”  Pilots are used to counterintuitive thinking.  Push the nose down and add power when you’ve stalled and are heading groundward anyway, for instance.  But the logic of what Garrow is doing becomes apparent only when you see the Verticopter® flying.  Adaptable for varying flight characteristics, the Verticopter can be powered by one or more motors.  A single motor, for instance, would provide a simple solution for a conventional takeoff and landing (CTOL) aircraft.  A short takeoff and vertical landing (STOVL) airplane might use two or more motors.  Full vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) would require four to six motors.  Motors can …

The Autonomous Swift

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

There were two presentations on the Swift ultralight flying wing at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium.  Dr Steve Morris of the MLB Company related the flight testing of a manned version of the craft, which had been and is being modified by a group of NASA researchers.  That NASA team presented material on the unmanned version of the Swift, as modified to allow autonomous flight.  Three industrious and inventive souls, Corey Ipollito, Paul Espinosa, and Al Weston, presented their work on the Swift Unmanned Aerial System (UAS), which they are undertaking with a small team of experts as a mostly volunteer effort at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California.  Ilan Kroo’s famous design has had many variants, including …

Bagging Algae – Pollutants into Energy

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

For the Fourth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium on April 23 and 24 in Rohnert Park, California, Dr. Jonathan Trent was an ideal kickoff speaker. His work with NASA Ames Research Center on converting pollutants into algae-based biofuels could have long-term effects on cleaning up our planet’s air and water, and provide byproducts that will help to feed the 900,000,000 who go hungry every day.  As he notes, “Unless we go electric, we must move to low-carbon fuels.” The problem is not a new one.  As musical satirist Tom Lehrer wrote in his 1960’s plea for emissions control, “Pollution, Pollution,” “The breakfast garbage that you throw in to the bay/They drink as lunch in San José.” Dr. Trent, a PhD. in Marine …