Matters of Note for the Green Flight Expo

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

One humanitarian business organization that will display at the Green Flight Expo following the completion of that seven-day event uses the type of technology the CAFE Foundation espouses for carrying medicines and supplies to remote parts of the third world that otherwise do not easily permit transport of any kind. Matternet’s slogan, “Lifting the Rising Billion” refers to those living primarily in Africa and is explained in their statement of belief.  “By increasing the access to reliable transportation for people living in poverty, we will enable them to find a sustainable path out of poverty. “We will connect people from geographically isolated communities to local and global markets through the Matternet.”  This credo applies to poor communities throughout the world, …

Power Spraying Takes on a Whole New Meaning

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Several news sources, apparently using the same press release from Mitsubishi Chemical Corp., have announced a spray-on solar cell, which can be applied in the same fashion as paint – to “buildings, vehicles and even clothing.”  This “means that the places where energy from the sun can be harvested are almost limitless.” Less than one millimeter thick and capable of 10.1-percent efficiency, the new material is said to have a weight one-tenth of traditional silicon cells.  Mitsubishi says these are prototype materials, and that they hope to achieve 15-percent efficiency by 2015, with 20 percent as a more distant possibility. Mitsubishi is a bit soft on details, but says, “The new solar cells utilize carbon compounds which, when dried and solidified, …

Electric, Small, and Challenging

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 4 Comments

Dr. Ilan Kroo, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics at Stanford and designer of the Swift ultralight hang glider, among others, has a different kind of mission – that of reshaping small aircraft for the greatest efficiency. Lessons learned from light aircraft can be applied on a larger scale – but keeping it simple and light to begin with allows less expensive learning, according to Kroo. The outline for his presentation at the fifth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium in Santa Rosa, California on April 29, 2011 is instructive. He had three major topics, all repeating the title for his talk; “Design Concepts for Small Electric Aircraft.” The first topic emphasized the word, “Electric,” the second, “Small,” and the third, “Design …

Aircraft That Don’t Ask For Directions

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

During the last two Electric Aircraft Symposia, Sebastian Thrun has shared his visions of future autonomous highways travelled by free-range cars that literally think ahead of the curve and don’t allow themselves to be boxed in – and even more daunting – autonomous helicopters that independently perform maneuvers that stretch the envelope in new directions and dimensions. His 2009 EAS presentation featured a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) desert race in which his Stanford University team fielded a Volkswagen Taureg in a 132-mile race through the Mojave.  Although not the ultimate winner, Stanford’s entry completed the course in a time that would have done pride to any human Baja race driver. More related to daily driving and eventual incorporation into …

Dr. Jaephil Cho’s Powerful Silicon Nanotubes

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Shortly before appearing at the fourth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium at Rohnert Park, California, Dr. Jaephil Cho was interviewed by Esther Levy of Material Views, an online resource dealing with, as the title implies, high-technology materials.  Dr. Cho, Dean of the new Interdisciplinary School of Green Energy at Ulsan National Institute of Science & Technology (UNIST), works with lithium-ion cells, and along with Dr. Yi Cui of Stanford University, is considered among the most forward thinking researchers in the field. Where Dr. Cui’s efforts are related to development of better cathodes, Dr. Cho’s work focuses on improving anode performance. Their efforts have led to an 80-percent improvement in cathode performance, as reported in Dr. Cui’s presentation at EAS III, and …

Half a World Apart, United in Their Research

Dean Sigler Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Dr. Yi Cui, a winner of the 2004 MIT Technology Review World Top 100 Young Innovator Award (among other notable awards), and Assistant Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University, was a distinguished presenter at the CAFE Foundation’s Third Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium last April. He talked about the structure and manufacturing of lithium-ion cells, and the material limitations placed on the performance of those cells. His breakthrough in using nanowires in the cathode promises an 80-percent gain in the cell’s charge-holding ability, equivalent to ten years of the normal cell improvement of eight percent per year. The good news was somewhat of a letdown for many, who were hoping to hear of a total …