Five Student Teams Show Five Possible Ways to Electric Flight

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

What will future airplanes look like?  Exciting, sleek and beautiful, if the five winners of a recent NASA Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD) challenge are any indicator.  Graduates and undergraduates were asked to design a four-seat, electrically-powered craft that “could carry at least 400 pounds of extra cargo, fly at least 575 miles during a single flight, cruise at a speed of at least 150 mph and be able to take off in less than 3,000 feet under normal conditions.”  Current materials and motors were undoubtedly intended, since the airplanes had to be ready to go into service by 2020 and be competitive with currently-available “standard piston-engine airplanes that burn fossil fuel.” This is definitely a challenge, and the students not …

Hydrogen as a Biofuel?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

While we’ve written recently about “artificial leaves” that emulate the photosynthesis of their real counterparts, researchers have announced the discovery of a way to extract hydrogen from any plant, which “could help end our dependence on fossil fuels,” according to Y. H. Percival Zhang, associate professor of biological systems engineering in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). The school describes the process as a “breakthrough that has the potential to bring a low-cost, environmentally friendly fuel source to the world.”  Zhang has been working on the problem for over seven years, and like many pioneers, has endured the critical appraisal of those not in tune …