David Ullman: Flying on Multiple Tiny Motors

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

David Ullman, a professor emeritus at Oregon State University, predicted electric flight’s future in articles in 2009* and 2010**.  His predictions have come (mostly) true and David is working to fulfill the rest.  His background in mechanical and aeronautical engineering provides credibility for his prognostications, and he’s taking practical steps to take electric aviation to a next, very creative level. While Uber’s Elevate Summit in Dallas earlier this year focused on big-money players in the vertical aviation world, David and co-creator Vincent H. Homer promoted their paper, “The IDEAL for Near-VTOL Aircraft.”  IDEAL represents “Integrated Distributed Electric – Augmented Lift” flight, using “thrust from distributed electric propulsion to improve the lift and drag performance of the aircraft during takeoff, cruise …

Potassium Graphite Batteries?

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge. Daniel J. Boorstin Oregon State University researchers in Corvallis, Oregon have worked around an intellectual roadblock they say has kept potassium from serious consideration as a battery material for over eight decades.  This could be good news, since potassium is more plentiful and lower cost than lithium, and according to OSU scientists, almost as energetic. Xiulei (David) Ji, the lead author of the study and an assistant professor of chemistry in the College of Science at Oregon State University. points out that potassium-ion batteries haven’t been considered since the Hoover administration. Ji said, “For decades, people have assumed that potassium couldn’t work with graphite or …

Anti-freeze Could Lower Cost of Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

We’ve examined many attempts to make solar cells, batteries and fuel cells less expensive and to use abundant, easily found materials in their manufacture.  Engineers at Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon may have crafted a process to manufacture budget solar cells with anti-freeze and relatively cheap metals as key components. Ethylene glycol, found in many automotive antifreeze products, acts as a low-cost solvent “that functions well in a ‘continuous flow’ reactor,” according to OSU, “an approach to making solar cells that cost less and avoid toxic compounds, while further expanding the use of solar energy.” The last sentence stopped your editor cold, since ethylene glycol is a neurotoxin, playing havoc with brains, livers and kidneys.  Reading the researchers’ paper published …

Horizontal or Vertical, in the Air or on the Water

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A 2008 ScienceDaily story was brought to light recently in the Minimalist Airplane Study Group, a Yahoo group dedicated to academic research on small aircraft. “In an advance toward introduction of an amazing new kind of internal combustion engine, researchers in China are reporting development and use of a new and more accurate computer model to assess performance of the so-called free-piston linear alternator (FPLA).” Their study of the FPLA, which could provide a low-emission, fuel efficient engine for future hybrid electric vehicles, was published in the August 27, 2008 issue of The American Chemical Society’s Energy & Fuels, a bi-monthly, peer-reviewed journal. Qingfeng Li, Jin Xiao and Zhen Huang explain in their paper that the FPLA has only one …