Making Algae More Productive

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The Blog has looked at several algae-to-fuel manufacturers in its postings, and the U. S. Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado adds its name to that growing list, but not in the usual commercial way.   NREL claims to have developed a “unique bioreactor,” otherwise known as their Simulated Algal Growth Environment (SAGE) reactor, which controls light and temperature to test different strains of algae and simulates various locations in the United States where particular spores would be most prolific. NREL’s hope is to use SAGE to “produce algae that could someday compete with renewable diesel, cellulosic ethanol, and other petroleum alternatives as transportation fuel.” “It does so by revealing the intricate biochemical rearrangements that algae …

Fuel Cell Progress in Britain

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado released a document last year on the viability of fuel cells for various applications, including transportation.  The National Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle Learning Demonstration Final Report, “analyzed data from more than 500,000 individual vehicle trips covering 3.6 million miles traveled and more than 152,000 [kilograms] hydrogen produced or dispensed.”  The agency tested 180 vehicles over a six-year period. With United States Department of Energy expectations that fuel cell powered vehicles could achieve: • 250-mile driving range • 2,000-hour fuel cell durability • $3/gallon gasoline equivalent (gge) hydrogen production cost (based on volume production) At least two fuel cell manufacturers report results exceeding these numbers, so the major impediment to wide-spread implementation of …

Cambridge, MIT Chasing Room-Temperature Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

News from Cambridge University shows some promise for inexpensive production of hydrogen, an elusive process considering the lightest element in creation is also the most common, said to make up 90 percent of the visible universe.  On earth, it readily combines with oxygen to form water, a handy thing to have around for the benefit of our species. Getting hydrogen out of the water so that we can burn it in our cars and airplanes is a frustrating process, though, often requiring more energy for the extraction than can be obtained from its combustion. According the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, “To make [hydrogen] usable in fuel cells or otherwise provide energy, we must expend energy or modify another energy source …

Dr. Eric Darcy, Building Better Batteries

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

Dr. Eric Darcy, the battery group leader at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas was selected last year as an Innovation Ambassador, and worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado to devise mathematical models for lithium ion battery performance.  This was part of NASA’s Innovative Partnerships Program, which allows some of NASA’s most talented scientists and engineers to work at several of America’s leading innovative external research and development organizations. NASA explains that the “inaugural group of ambassadors is initiating the planned annual program targeting opportunities to create NASA partnerships and new innovation sources outside of the traditional aerospace field. During assignments of up to one year, the NASA ambassadors will share their own expertise while …

Smart Skies Down Under

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants 1 Comment

Mr Richard R. Glassock holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with honors, and supervises undegraduate unmanned aerial vehicle projects at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with the Australian Research Centre for Aerospace Automation (ARCAA). He currently leads the “Smart Skies” unmanned aerial systems flight-testing program and is working on his Master’s Thesis. At the Twenty-Fourth Bristol International Unmanned Air Vehicle Systems Conference, in 2009, Bristol United Kingdom he presented a detailed paper on a parallel hybrid system using off the shelf model aircraft components he and his associates designed and tested. “Multimodal Hybrid Powerplant for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Robotics” shows the use of an OS 10 cc model airplane engine, combined with a Plettenberg 220 motor. His group found …

Solar Cells Can Never Be Too Thin

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

AirVenture’s unofficial prize for the most popular aircraft at each year’s fly in – the brown grass award, named for the trampled turf around the much-thronged craft, had a CAFE Foundation equivalent at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium.  That would be the crumpled carpet prize for the circles around Dr. Joseph (Joe) Armstrong, Chief Technical Officer for Ascent Solar, a Thornton, Colorado-based firm.  Wearing a bandolier-like ribbon of extremely thin, flexible solar cells at the end of his talk, he was surrounded by break-takers eager to get a closer look at his impressive array of photovoltaics.  Commercial production modules of the copper indium gallium (di)selenide (CIGS) cells have been verified at an industry-high10.5-percent efficiency by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).  The …