Erik, Eric, Dr. Anderson, Verdego and Hybrid Power

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

In a recent AVWeb Vodcast, Paul Bertorelli interviewed Embry Riddle’s Dr. Pat Anderson on the topic, “Why Electric Airplane Designers Are Turning to Hybrid Drives.”  Battery energy-carrying capability has not fulfilled its promise yet, according to Anderson.  The difference in energy density between fossil fuels and batteries is still too great to fulfill missions involving more than small craft and short distances for the most part.  This outlook caused Dr. Anderson’s associates, Eric Lindbergh and Eric Bartsch to form Verdego Aero, dedicated initially to developing a Diesel-hybrid generator system. They corroborate Dr. Anderson’s sense of current battery technology, their web site answering “Why hybrid?”  They explain, “Electric aircraft are at the forefront of aviation technology, but the energy density of current …

DOE Promotes Carbon Neutrality Aeronautically

Dean Sigler Announcements, Biofuels, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Both GreenCarCongress.com and CleanTechnica share information about the Department of Energy’s funding of 17 projects in two Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) categories.  Prepare for the inevitable rush of acronyms.  All the projects seem to be reserved for applications on single-aisle short- and intermediate-range airliners, with emphasis on economy of operation, carbon neutrality and lowest possible emissions. ASCEND Powertrain related, ASCEND (Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives) will fund nine projects with $14.5 in Phase 1 money.  Funds will help recipients, “Work to develop innovative, lightweight, and ultra-efficient all-electric powertrain with advanced thermal management systems that help enable efficient net-zero carbon emissions for single-aisle passenger commercial aircraft.” Raytheon Technologies Research Center has three projects in two ARPA-E categories, …

Making Greener-Than-Green Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

What if we could make “clean” hydrogen from plain water, with none of the problems associated with coal, oil or gas extraction and the waste byproducts produced in extracting brown or blue H2?  Several approaches such as artificial leaves have been developed, but a totally different new approach seems incredibly promising.  A promising approach may lead to greener-than-green hydrogen. The Race to Invent the Artificial Leaf Varun Sivaram, in his book Taming the Sun discusses how Nate Lewis at Caltech and Daniel Nocera at Harvard “determined to find a way to wring fuel out of thin air.”  Each has created an “artificial leaf” that emulates the photosynthesis performed naturally by real leaves. A real leaf is far more complex than …

Cambridge’s Artificial Leaf Makes Syngas

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Cambridge University researchers have developed a new “artificial leaf” that uses sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to directly generate “syngas,” without releasing additional CO2 into the atmosphere.  As the Cambridge team reported, ‘Syngas is currently made from a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide, and is used to produce a range of commodities, such as fuels, pharmaceuticals, plastics and fertilizers.” Other “leaves” have been devised, perhaps the most famous being that of Daniel Nocera, formerly at MIT and now at Harvard University.  He was among the first and at the time, most successful, or the leaf producers.  Note the next step he proposes at the end of the short video. Professor Erwin Reisner from Cambridge’s Department of Chemistry has been …

Clean Jet Fuel from the Air?

Dean Sigler Announcements, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

What if we could suck carbon from the air, make clean jet fuel out of it, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by using this fuel in our airliners?  That’s a dream pursued by many researchers, and recently Rotterdam the Hague Airport announced a study to sort out the plausibility of such a plan.  First, though, we need to look at the numbers for how much fossil fuel would have to be replaced. These are Big Numbers How much fuel goes into a large jetliner?  How efficiently is it used?  These are matters of concern to airline executives on a profit-and-loss basis, and to all of us on an environmental basis.  Let’s look at the Boeing 787 Dreamliner variants for an …

Fish and Fuel from Sunlight, Sand, and Salt Water

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Ethiad Airways made the first commercial flight on fuel made from plants grown in saltwater by Khalifa University.  Burning jet fuel made from halophyte plants grown in salt water and fertilized by the shrimp and fish living in the salt water enabled a flight from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam on January 16.  It was the first flight on pure biofuels, even though commercial airlines have made over  160,000 flights on blended fuels since 2011. Dennis Bushnell Predicted This Chief Scientist at NASA Langley Dennis Bushnell shared information on halophytes, plants that grow in salt water.  He presented such ideas at a symposium your editor attended six years ago, and his vision is now being realized.  He points out that 70 …

Eraole in Flight – Further and Higher

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Eraole is a unique machine in a sea of unique craft.  Powered by a combination of sunlight, Total biofuel, and hydrogen, Raphael Dinelli’s tandem-winged biplane has been under development for many years.  With it, Raphael hopes to cross the Atlantic in 2019, Duplicating Charles Lindbergh’s 1927 flight at about half the Spirit of the Spirit of St. Louis’s speed. Eraole’s first flight took place in 2016.  The video will allow you to compare its look then with its changed appearance today. Changes of Plane, Changes of Plans Dinelli’s original plan for the flight included the use of an algae-derived fuel to run Eraole’s engine/generator.  As reported by La Tribune, though, “For four years, the Ocean Vital Foundation conducted research with …

Ammonia + Light = Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Fuel Cells, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Hydrogen continues on its course of always being five to ten years away as a cheap, viable storage mechanism for energy.  The ideal of driving a car that emits only water vapor (or flying an airplane that zooms about on a few pounds of H2) seems like an ever-distant dream. Tina Casey, writing for Gas2.com reports on Rice University solution using stinky ammonia that might clear the air for hydrogen, though.  She explains that the October 8th celebration of the fourth annual Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day was great for natural gas stakeholders, since the gas is the primary source today for hydrogen.  Her headline indicates this could become a leading way to store and extract H2: “Forget the Hydrogen …

Biofuels from Many Sources

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Hybrid Aircraft, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

We’ve looked at an array of different biofuel sources ranging from used cooking oil and algae to farm and municipal waste.  This is essential as the percentage of airline emissions becomes a bigger part of our overall greenhouse gas situation.   The Guardian reports, “A 2017 estimate said air travel accounted for 2.5% of all carbon dioxide emissions, with the total emissions expected to quadruple by 2050.”We’ll look here at how some of the early efforts have panned out and examine a late-breaking surprise or two. Mustard Seeds? According to the Guardian, “A Qantas plane powered partly by mustard seeds has become the world’s first biofuel flight between Australia and the United States, after landing in Melbourne on [January 30, 2018].” …

Lithium-Oxygen Battery Breakthrough

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The University of Waterloo (Ontario, Canada – not far from Niagara Falls) News, reported, “Chemists make breakthrough on the road to creating a rechargeable lithium-oxygen battery.”  Dr. Linda Nazar, Canada Research Chair in Solid State Energy Materials, led a team that “Resolved two of the most challenging issues surrounding lithium-oxygen batteries, and in the process created a working battery with near 100 per cent coulombic efficiency.” The new work, which appears this week in the journal Science, Proves that four-electron conversion for lithium-oxygen electrochemistry is highly reversible.”  Waterloo is the first to achieve this, doubling electron storage in lithium-oxygen (Li-O2 – also known as lithium-air) batteries.  The video below touches on this and a great many other chemistries. Dr. Nazar …