Drexel’s Accidental Sulfur Battery Discovery

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Chained to Supplies? A sulfur battery uses an abundant, energy-dense material not subject to the limitations of many supply chains like those for lithium, cobalt, and nickel – all necessary for batteries as they are now constructed.  William Lockett, writing for freethink.com, highlights the potential magnitude of a discovery by Drexel University researchers. “Every now and then, revolutionary technology seems to spontaneously appear out of thin air and change our world. Dynamite, penicillin, X-ray machines, and even microwaves are all examples of such revolutionary accidental discoveries. “Well, this year we may have had yet another. However, this time it is set not only to revolutionize the way we live, but potentially save our planet from looming climate change by unlocking …

Lift + Cruise Transitions for eVTOLs

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A New Mission Some formerly rotor-only eVTOLs are transitioning to a new configuration – one with wings for greater range and speed.  Vertical takeoffs and landings are OK for short-range Urban Air Mobility (UAM), but not necessarily good for longer range flight.  Hovering flight requires thrust equal to the weight of the vehicle, and climbing requires additional thrust.  Switching to wing-borne flight reduces the power necessary and increases flight duration. Some trends in housing and commutes indicate longer, regional flights may be necessary to fetch workers from ever more far-flung homes.  Purely rotor-borne flight will still be viable for short trips with batteries, but wings add speed and endurance. VoloConnect Volocopter, having started with a simple multi-rotor prototype 10 years …

ZeroAvia Finds Widespread Interest, Challenges

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, hydrogen, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

ZeroAvia is finding its way into the development of hydrogen-fueled aviation, and finding along its way great interest and challenges. ZeroAvia, now in Hollister, California, Cranfield, England, and Everett, Washington finds widespread interest in serving multiple clients, since its projects fit a wide dynamic range of exciting possibilities.  The three locations enable adhering to different certification requirements while meeting diverse challenges. Val Miftakhov, founder and CEO of ZeroAvia, has grand plans for his company and the clients it will serve. Otto Celera 500L Lurking on the sidelines of the Victorville, California airport for what seemed years, this craft was a great mystery with unspecified potential.  Now it’s flying with a 550 horsepower RED (Raikhlin Engine Development) V-12 Diesel powerplant and …

Beta’s Alia Makes a Highly-charged Trip

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Beta Technologies has taken an all or nothing approach from its beginning, designing charging stations and flight crew centers to complement its aerial vehicles.  Last month, Beta got a chance to show at least part of its cross-country ambitions. A Six-State Outing From May 23 to May 24, Betas Alia 250 eVTOL (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) aircraft made one of the longest cross-country flights at that time for such a vehicle.   Alia did not take advantage of its vertical capabilities, relying instead on conventional runway-borne takeoffs and landings. The total flight from Plattsburgh to Bentonville covered 1,355 miles (2,181 kilometers) and took almost 12 hours – about like a similar flight in a Cessna 172. Charging Stations Beta …

Electra.Aero Acquires Airflow

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Too Similar Not to Have Joined Forces The PRNewswire.com press release lauds the acquisition of Airflow.aero by Electra.aero: “Hybrid-Electric Blown-Lift eSTOL Plane Developer Electra Acquires Airflow to Create a Leader in Advanced Air Mobility.”  The two companies have been developing similar multi-motor, blown-lift aircraft for the past few years.  Electra’s has eight motors distributed across its wingspan, Airflow’s has 10. They both use large multi-element flaps to divert propeller thrust downwards, enabling extremely short takeoffs and landings. A Great Idea, but Better with Electric Power This is not a new concept, having been demonstrated in the 1960s by French manufacturer Breguet and American McDonnell.  The 188 was a demonstrator that didn’t pick up any orders in either country.  The narrator …

Lifetime Batteries?

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What if your new electric car came with a steel-clad warranty on its lifetime batteries?  Your editor’s father would have asked, “Whose lifetime?” but researchers at Dalhousie University suggest that might become a reality. lIn a paper in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, “Li[Ni0.5Mn0.3Co0.2]O2 as a Superior Alternative to LiFePO4 for Long-Lived Low Voltage Li-Ion Cells,” Jeff Dahn’s research team explains a different approach to battery longevity.  The chemistry is similar to that used in millions of cells, but lowers the amount of carbon to operate at 3.8 Volts rather than 4.2 Volts.  These lower output cells, “Have an energy density that exceeds that of the LFP cells and a cycle-life that greatly exceeds that of the LFP cells …

Three Light Electric Motorgliders

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Light electric motorgliders work well in the real world.  They’re light, compact, and easily transported to a flying site or back home.  Their small battery packs can be charged at home (under safe conditions) and provide enough duration to get the small machines to altitude, where they can explore thermals and ridge lift.  Because they are small, they require less materials and are often less expensive than standard-class or larger sailplanes.  Because they can self launch, they spare the cost of towplanes and possible chase crews. Economics aside, these craft provide fun flying and fairly untroubled ownership. Birdy We’ve reported on Birdy before.  It’s a 120-kilogram airplane, a class that in Europe allows pilots with a sport license and no …

Piaggio’s Electric or Hydrogen Concept – Not Yet

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Clearing the Fumes Charles Alcock reports for FutureFlight.com, and shares that, “Piaggio Aerospace is laying plans for a possible hydrogen-electric business aircraft featuring a completely new airframe.”  Piaggio is probably better know for the Vespa scooters that dot Italian boulevards,  Those have even gone electric, a saving grace for pedestrians along the strada who won’t have to inhale two-stroke engine fumes. Piaggio makes two versions of its Elettrica – 45 Km/H (28 mph) and 70 Km/H (43.5 mph).  Both powered by a four kilowatt (5.36 horsepower) motor, driven by a 48 Volt, 25 kilogram (55 pound) battery.  The speed difference seems to be a software/firmware setting that limits the slower scooter to a regulated speed. It would seem almost natural, then, …

Electric seagliders Skimming Coastal Waters

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REGENT seaglider Skimming the Waves WIGs are Wings in Ground Effect, a type of flight that keeps one just above the sea’s surface.  Simplified, when a wing is at an altitude less than its span, it operates in a ground effects cushion that adds lift.  According to backers of REGENT’s seaglider, such a craft can skim the waters in low-level flight while providing transport cheaper and quicker than water-borne alternatives. CNN reports, “…a Boston-based start-up backed by some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors wants to turn the sea lanes along the country’s east and west coasts into high-speed transit corridors.” The firm identifies their company name as an all-caps, proper noun acronym – Regional Electric Ground Effect Nautical Transport.  …

Group 14 Gets a Push from Porsche

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We covered Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s visit to the Group 14 Technologies battery plant in Woodinville last year.  Now the Group is getting attention from Porsche, among other funders.  The startup company announced raising $400 million from investors including the Teutonic automaker. According to Reuters, part of those funds will be used to build a second battery materials plant in eastern Washington State.  The company is now valued at over $1 billion, money which will help expand battery materials production for the silicon-lithium cell market. Silicon is a desirable material in batteries, capable of storing more energy than lithium or other metals.  It has a major drawback, though.  In expanding and contracting during charge-discharge cycles, it eventually deteriorates, crumbles, and …