ZeroAvia Comes to the Pacific Northwest

Dean Sigler Announcements, Fuel Cells, hydrogen, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

In the Everett (Washington) Herald Janice Podsada reports, “ZeroAvia, which currently has offices in London and in Hollister, California, plans to invest $5.5 million to ready an Everett site for a team of 20 design and software engineers.”  This will be a new entry in Snohomish County, a location already supporting over 500 aerospace companies. Everett, site for Boeing Aircraft’s huge production facility, is also home to MagniX, poised to power aircraft such as Eviation’s Alice, currently preparing for test flights in Arlington, about 18 miles north.  ZeroAvia will accept, “A $350,000 grant to convert a warehouse at the Snohomish County-owned airport into a research-and-development facility.” Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia’s founder, explained the importance of the state’s Department of Commerce grant. “Given …

Stanford’s Ultra-thin Solar Cell

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We’ve noted here recently that early (and even current) examples of solar-powered aircraft suffered from the low efficiency of the panels that collected sunlight to power them.  The panels add weight, and so far, nobody’s flying with more than 29-percent efficiency.  What if a different approach, using ultra-thin solar cells covered the entire aircraft?  That’s the possibility with Stanford University’s “new, ultrathin photovoltaic materials.” Your Editor’s take on this is that 5.1-percent efficiency now offered by the Stanford solar cells could be applied by wrapping the entire plane, much like car customizers wrap high-end automobiles.  That’s occurred to researchers.  “Imagine an autonomous drone that powers itself with a solar array atop its wing that is 15 times thinner than a …

Zeva Aero’s Zero Test Flight in Full Size

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While waiting for Eviation Alice’s first test flight, we got a glimpse of another type of electric aviation in Pacific Northwest skies.  Zeva Aero’s Zero single “seat” flying saucer lifted off in someone’s sunny back yard for a series of hops. The overlay of soft music keeps us from knowing how noisy this thing is, and it would be of interest to know if it passed the good neighbor test while levitating, and whether the eight motors and propellers hummed or screamed.  (NOTE: since the video of the flight test has been removed from YouTube, we’re substituting the company campaign video. Founded in 2017 “to compete in the Boeing GoFly competition and then build a business on the back of …

Nanotech Energy – A “Solution” to the Lithium Battery?

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Hot Pockets Introduced at this year’s CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show), Nanotech Energy’s Graphene-Organolyte™ Advanced Li-ion Battery (winner of a CES 2022 Innovation Award) merits a look.  At least partly intended to stop battery fires, always hot news despite their relative rarity (compared to the 170,000+ petrol car fires every year), Nanotech explains its concern.  “A battery, if shorted, could become a fireball bomb nearly impossible to extinguish using conventional techniques. In February 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported over 25,000 overheating and battery fire incidents involving more than 400 types of consumer products over a five-year period. Clearly, building safer batteries will be critical for the future of energy storage technology.” Keep in mind that “consumer …

Copper for Solar Cells

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Solar cells are older than we perhaps knew, and their efficiency was low in their early development.  They were also remarkably expensive.  Today, though, materials like perovskite are making new, less-expensive and reasonably efficient cells possible.  Swapping copper for the more expensive silver conductors may help make these cells even more rewarding.  In a further development, a simple plastic film wrap may make perovskite cells safer. A Long History of Low Efficiency Two dates stand out in Wikipedia’s recounting of solar cell development: 1839 –Edmond Becquerel observes the photovoltaic effect via an electrode in a conductive solution exposed to light. 1883 – Charles Fritts develops a solar cell using selenium on a thin layer of gold to form a device …

Hydrogen harvested from Dirty and Clean Sources

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Scientists working in England and Belgium have come up with low-cost ways of extracting hydrogen from either very dirty water or from the air around us.  If these breakthrough technologies pan out, they could set us on a different path to energy independence. Hydrogen is the futurist’s dream fuel, non-polluting and emitting only water vapor.  But it’s been hampered by its high cost of production and sourcing from natural gas. Cleaning Water and Making Clean Fuel Researchers at the University of Warwick have found a “two-fer” that cleans waste water and produces a clean fuel.  They note the following caveat and a promising development from their research: “Wastewater treatment is vital to remove pathogens, but is incredibly energy intensive. The …

Doubling Down with Ascendance

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Ascendance Flight Technologies, a French firm developing an electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft, has doubled down on its original, smaller airplane.  Originally a four-seat, hybrid-powered machine with three lift fans, Atea has retained the name, but grown considerably. Holey Wings Atea now has eight lift fans and two horizontal propellers arranged in a push-pull configuration.  It can carry its five passenger in a “Skyview cabin” for 400 kilometers (248 miles)  Powered by its modular “Sterna” hybrid-electric propulsion system, the craft will hit as yet unspecified speeds, but within a two-hour range, that will probably be about 124 mph. An expansion of their original design, Atea comes from a group of former Airbus e-Fan engineers and technicians.  The …

Zeva Zero – the Return of the Puffin?

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  Dreams of flight often include the dreamer wearing a silk scarf, if not a cape.  We would love to emulate our super heroes with all their startling dexterity.  A group in the Puget Sound area is making part of that dream come true.  Starting with radio-controlled models a few years ago Zeva Aero has progressed to a full-scale unit that will carry an individual Superman style, with the pilot/passenger peering through a transparent shield. Needing only a 30-foot by 30-foot landing area, Zeva’s Zero boasts the ability to hoist a 220-pound person vertically, tilt over and take them 50 miles at up to 150 miles per hour.  Zero’s eight electric motors provide a degree of redundancy and safety, enabling …

The EleFanT in the Room

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Electric Ducted Fans (EDF) may soon show some promise in full-size flight.  Several projects are under way, including EleFanT, an interesting development in Germany by GKN and KTH (the Swedish Royal Institute of Technology).  First, though, we’ll look at two stateside projects. David Ullman’s IDEAL EDFs fans are nothing new in the model aviation world, often powering large-scale models of actual jet fighters or trainers.  Such model motors, combining their thrust, can augment lift and propulsion on light aircraft, and a few larger projects are attempting to utilize that promise. David Ullman, in Independence, Oregon has flown a Jabiru he rebuilt from a wreck with its Jabiru engine providing the main power, but augmented in thrust and lift by four …

Thomas Senkel and Electric Vertical Mobility

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Thomas Senkel was an early part of Volocopter, initially called e-Volo.  His first efforts resulted in a spider-like creation perched on an exercise ball.  It flew, seemed stable, and despite the placement of whirling propeller blades encircling Thomas during his test flights, proved not a hazardous as it looked. Explanatory material accompanying the video declared, “The first manned flight with an electric vertical take-off and landing multicopter (eVTOL) was performed by Volocopter. The flight lasted 90 seconds, after which the pilot Thomas Senkel stated ‘The flight characteristics are good natured. Without any steering input it would just hover there on the spot.’ The flight, which is a Guinness World Record, was performed on October 21st in 2011.” Although he helped …