MIT’s Ionic Flyer – Solid State All the Way

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

This week, a kerfuffle tsunami has swept through the aeronautical press, with the announcement by Steven Barret of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that he has flown an ion-powered airplane that “doesn’t depend on fossil fuels or batteries.”*  (A minor point – the airplane does have a battery that gets its output voltage ramped up by a custom power supply.) Five years ago, your editor reported on ionic thrusters, several of which were being tested by Barrett, associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics. These little devices have great promise for moving vehicles in space, where the vacuum presents no aerodynamic drag to overcome. Even a small nudge from a thruster in space will cause a vehicle to accelerate. They …

Fuel Cells for Drones: Going for Endurance

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Several fuel cell developments show there are lots of options for burning hydrogen, if we can only make and distribute it in great enough quantities.  Most noteworthy, fuel cells could provide increased endurance and range compared to batteries. Professor Gyeong Man Choi and his Ph.D. student Jun Joong Kim, working at the Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea, have developed a miniaturized solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that can fly a drone for more than an hour.  On the consumer front, their fuel cell would allow cell phones to be charged just once a week. The professor and his students created the fuel cell to directly replace the batteries normally found in cell phones, laptop computers, …