An “Ideal” Battery That Looks Like a Sandwich

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Sandwich structures are common in aircraft, combining high stiffness, light weight, and structural strength.  Could such a structure be useful in enhancing energy storage?  Pennsylvania State University researchers think they’ve answered that question in a positive way. Sandwich-like Structures as Energy Storage Materials The blog has examined the possibilities inherent in incorporating batteries and supercapacitors into structures, but making the battery itself a sandwich structure could leave it as a discrete component within an electric vehicle, or lead to its being adapted as a full structural element.   Penn State University materials scientists have achieved the goal of making a “polymer dielectric material with high energy density, high power density and excellent charge-discharge efficiency for electric and hybrid vehicle use.”  Their …

Madagascar Medicine Meets the Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

In the Small World category, the team leader of the 2011 Green Flight Challenge winning team is designing the next generation of a drone that can carry blood and stool samples from remote and otherwise inaccessible parts of Madagascar to a central laboratory where the samples can be analyzed.  Jack Langelaan, Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Pennsylvania State University, is working with Vayu Aircraft to develop a vertical takeoff and landing machine specially crafted to meet the needs of the ValBio Centre. The video shows an early version of the drone, while pictures on Vayu’s web site depict a sleeker, more refined approach.  The functionality for both machines would seem to be identical, but the styling for the projected future …

Rumpled Cathodes Benefit Lithium Sulfur Batteries

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

We like to think of things inside batteries as neatly organized, but Pennsylvania State University researchers may have come up with a less tidy way of making cathodes. Researchers synthesized “highly crumpled” nitrogen-doped graphene (NG) sheets with “ultrahigh pore volume” and large surface area (1,158 square meters– 12,465 square feet or about one-third the area of a football field) per gram.  This large area and high porosity “enable strong polysulfide adsorption and high sulfur content for use as a cathode material in Li-sulfur batteries.”  Interwoven rather than stacked, the wrinkled material provides ample room for “nitrogen-containing active sites.” The batteries, according to the researchers, “achieved” a high capacity of 1,226 milliamp-hours per gram and 75-percent capacity retention after 300 cycles.  …

Additive Manufacturing for Electric Motors

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) is working with the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) on the “Additive Manufacturing of Optimized Ultra-High Efficiency Electric Machines,” or making motors through 3-D printing with metals, possibly obviating the need for rare-earth elements. The $2.7 million ARPA-E award will fund the East Hartford, Connecticut-based project through early 2016 and may lead toward the goal of creating lower-cost, more efficient motors. Because modern permanent magnet motors require rare earth minerals in their magnets for maximum performance, manufacturers must make optimum use of these minerals with minimum waste to be successful.  Because these minerals do not exist in large quantities in North America, makers must import a great many of them from Asia, where …

Transformative EV Range Expansion?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

In what may be eventual good news for future electric aviators, the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) will award approximately $36 million to 22 projects to develop transformational electric vehicle (EV) energy storage systems using innovative chemistries, architectures and designs.  ARPA-E also uses the term, “revolutionary.” The series of awards is part of the RANGE program (Robust Affordable Next Generation Energy Storage Systems), intended “to enable a 3X increase in electric vehicle range (from ~80 to ~240 miles per charge) with a simultaneous price reduction of > 1/3 (to ~ $30,000). If successful, these vehicles will provide near cost and range parity to gasoline-powered ICE vehicles, ARPA-E said.” “Transformational” comes straight from the CAFE …

Increasing biofuel Production 20 Times

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

What if, instead of using corn to make ethanol, we were to use corn stover, the waste stalks, leaves and non-edible portions of the corn plant?  It’s not a new or novel idea, but Michigan State University researchers have taken a new direction in extracting energy from it. The East Lansing research team has managed to produce 20 times more energy than through the use of existing methods by using microbes to “produce biofuel and hydrogen, all while consuming agricultural wastes.” The method combines biological, chemical and electrical reactions to generate fuel and energy.  Gemma Regurera, an MSU microbiologist,” has developed bioelectrochemical systems known as microbial electrolysis cells, or MECs, using bacteria to break down and ferment agricultural waste into …

Dr. Jack Langelaan and Heuristic Navigation Techniques

Dean Sigler GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

“Heuristic: involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods ; also: of or relating to exploratory problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques (as the evaluation of feedback) to improve performance ”  m-w.com (Merriam-Webster online)  Dr. Jack Langelaan’s talk at the fifth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium was one of at least two to use the term, “heuristic,” and sent this writer scrambling for the dictionary. His presence in Santa Rosa, four months ahead of his return with the Green Flight Challenge winning Pipistrel G4, showed at least one of the facets to the planning that would make the G4 victorious. Careful flight planning, as any flying instructor will gladly inform you, is …

Green Flight Challenge Winners

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Monday, October 3 was the second day of Nobel Prize announcements, but also marked the Green Flight Challenge Expo, sponsored by Google and staged under the control tower on Moffett Field, home of NASA Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California. The four airplanes that flew in the Challenge at Charles M. Schulz Sonoma Country Airport in Santa Rosa, California were joined by Greg Stevenson’s full-size mockup of his GFC design and a Pipistrel Virus that had won an earlier NASA/CAFE Personal Air Vehicle (PAV) Challenge.  Stevenson’s airplane was a reminder that there were numerous entrants that, for a variety of reasons, could not attend.  There is a huge number of aircraft in the wings, so to speak, that will fill these …

Green Flight Challenge – Day One

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation

  Sunday, September 25 marked the kickoff of the Green Flight Challenge sponsored by Google, a NASA Centennial Challenge managed by the CAFE Foundation, with a thorough technical inspection for each entrant, followed by a weigh-in.  Held at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, the event is an event of international importance, despite the small turnout. With only four entrants making an appearance out of the original 13 that had announced and made it through the rigorous design review, there might be cause for disappointment. Consider, though, the Berblinger competition held in April at the Aero Expo in Friedrichshafen, Germany. 36 teams signed up, 24 made it to the Expo, 13 started the course and eight finished. The GFC has a comparable start-finish …

Pipistrel Preparing for Green Flight Challenge

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Michael Coates, American distributor for Pipistrel, shares some pictures and videos of the G4, four-seat, twin-fuselage electric motorglider a “technology demonstrator” for the company and its entry in the Google/NASA/CAFE Foundation Green Flight Challenge, which starts Sunday, September 25 in Santa Rosa, California.  The Pipistrel team, headed by Jack Langelann of Pennsylvania State University, is working out Hollister, California’s airport, about 70 miles south of San Francisco and 150 miles from Santa Rosa.  The team expects to fly to Charles M. Schulz field on “Friday or Saturday of the this week” for the competition. Pilot Robin Reid guided the big bi-fuselage craft through its paces and brought back this in-flight video, which shows the visibility is better than one would …