A Flight to Counter Plastic Pollution

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Jeremy Rowsell, an Australian pilot and concerned environmentalist, has seen plastic littering beaches around the world, and knows of the micro-plastic particles ingested by fish and sea birds.  His hope four years ago was to fly a Cessna from Australia to London and back – powered by fuel made from that waste plastic. That event never came, and Rowsell is back with a still ambitious plan to fly an RV-9A from San Francisco, California (the world’s innovation hub, according to the project’s web site) to Anchorage, Alaska (the world’s climate change frontier), following a safer route than the originally planned oceanic journey. The Problem and One Solution Partnering with Plasticenergy, a Spanish company that uses “end-of-life” plastic to make commercially …

Corncobs as a Source of Supercapacitors?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Researchers at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center at the University of Illinois report, “that wood-biochar supercapacitors can produce as much power as today’s activated-carbon supercapacitors at a fraction of the cost – and with environmentally friendly byproducts.” Junhua Jiang, senior research engineer at the Center, has been reducing wood and cellulose products such as corncobs to biochar by heating the fibers in a reduced oxygen environment.  This pyrolysis process creates a  porous, black substance that can be used as electrodes in supercapacitors.  While other researchers use carbon black or more advanced forms of carbon such as nanotubes, this more humble approach yields equal or better performance at a fraction of the cost of the more labor-intensive methods.  Many of the alternatives obtain …