Worldwide Battery Developments

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Worldwide, batteries are getting a great deal of backing, but probably not at the level of China’s push to rule over world electric vehicle markets.  Recently, China awarded BYD $3.7 billion to enable it to pursue dominance of the world EV market.  According to Bloomberg.com, “Virtually all of China’s listed companies received direct handouts in 2022, the Kiel Institute [for the World Economy] said, flagging support for wind, solar and railway rolling stock companies. Industry aid in China is “at least three to four” times higher than in large EU and OECD countries, the group said.” The European Union is busy investigating China’s underwriting of its own auto industry in what the EU sees as an anti-competitive advantage in an ongoing EV price war.  America, for the most part, and aside from relatively minor Advanced Research Project Agency – Electric (ARPA-E) funding, does not seem to encourage EV development. What usually starts with automotive advancement eventually finds its way skyward.  …

What’s Eviation’s Alice Up To Lately?

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Eviation puts its intentions front and center on its web site.  “OUR VISION: To launch a new era of more sustainable, scalable, and affordable transportation.” They follow this up with, “OUR MISSION: To build beautiful electric airplanes using advanced technology and impeccable design, imagined and built by a committed and expert workforce.” And Alice did fly a beautiful test flight on September 27, 2022 – and since then it’s not flown again.  According to FlightGlobal.com, Alice’s makers felt the single flight was enough to have “generated terabytes of data.” Gregory Davis, then the company’s CEO stated, “What we have been doing is focusing on what we need to get the airplane to the next stage. We don’t need to fly the aircraft again and again [at this point] – let’s focus on advancing the design.” With certification perhaps four years away, then CEO Davis seemed to indicate everything was open to change, including the MagniX motors that had powered the only …

Voltaero’s Cassio Progress

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A year ago, VoltAero, a French company grown out of Airbus’ early efforts at creating electric aircraft, was test flying a modified Cessna 337 Skymaster.  They have made progress from the three motor craft to a range of single-propeller machines with much higher performance – the Cassio.  Their pre-prototype mockup has been making the air show and exhibition rounds, moving steadily westward. One Year Ago VoltAero was still promoting their Skymaster derivative, but had been planning on bringing out the first of three similar three-surface aircraft.  Dropping the dual Safran 45kilowatt motors of that testbed, the firm went to a single Kawasaki-powered hybrid power system that drives a single five-blade pusher propeller. Jean Botti, former Airbus executive and now CEO of VoltAero, explained the move as a way to lower noise – a significant need for modern aircraft often operating in urban environments. The hybrid system enables the internal combustion (thermal) engine to recharge batteries in flight and act as …

Ampaire Acquired Two Firms – Expands Possibilities

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Anpaire, a leader in hybrid aviation, announced it has just acquired two firms.   Magpie Aviation, a somewhat audacious startup that has created a remarkable way of towing battery-powered electric airplanes hitherto unattainable distances.  Ampaire also acquired Talyn Air, a startup offering an eVTOL (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) solution to extending range.  Both firms take unusual approaches to the problem. It’s not like Ampaire doesn’t put enough mileage on its own hybrid aircraft – 25,000 at last count.  Ampaire has flown its Cessna 337 push-pull twins in Hawaii, Scotland, and England and converted Cessna Caravans to Ampaire’s hybrid drive. Adding range up to a thousand miles at a time, Magpie hooks up to an otherwise range-limited aircraft and can tag team the craft on multiple hookups. On another front, Ampaire has also brought Talyn Air into the fold, using a lifting craft to take a cruise machine to launch altitude. Add to the new airframe types Ampaire has included …

Universal Hydrogen End-to-End

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In an “end-to-end” demonstration of its proprietary liquid hydrogen module, Universal Hydrogen Co. has successfully run a megawatt-class fuel cell powertrain.  “End-to-End,” in this case means “[the] demonstration of a hydrogen molecule moving from our filler/dispenser into our storage module and then into our powertrain is the first time that all the pieces of our product portfolio for regional aviation have come together,” said Paul Eremenko, co-founder and CEO of Universal Hydrogen. “The next step is to upgrade our flight testbed to fly the powertrain fueled by our modules.” In a simplified interface for a complex process, the liquid hydrogen module “is the core of the company’s fuel services offering for aviation.”  Looking like any other intermodal freight and airport cargo handling equipment, each module contains 200 kilograms (440 pounds) of liquid hydrogen.  Capable of storing it for long periods without boiloff, the module’s internal systems convert the cryogenic H2 into a warm gaseous H2 consumed by the powertrain Designed …

Three Personal Flyers You Can Buy

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…Or Invest In We exhibit here three personal flyers you can buy today or within a year or so.  Perhaps that wait might be prolonged in some instances because a few of the makers are also looking for investors.  Recent instances of troubles getting a certain stainless steel electric pickup to market come to mind, for instance.  As always your mileage may vary. Doroni H1-X “Engineered for the new generation of personal mobility,” the Doroni H1-X is a sleek little four-fan runabout that can fit in a two-car garage.  Two pusher propellers help drive if forward.  An owner could roll it out after an overnight charging session and fly up to 60 miles at up to 120 miles per hour, landing and taking off vertically from and to a driveway-size patch. Obviously, with a $300,000 to $400,000 price tag, one expects a well-sorted-out machine that will perform as promised and provide the utmost in safety.  To that end, Doroni suggests …

A 1k\Wkg Aluminum-Air Flow Battery

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A one kilowatt per kilogram battery would be a literally fulfilled wish in any aircraft designer’s list of desirable advances.  Tesla’s drive around with 260 Watts per kilogram in their floors, and Amprius recently announced 500 Watt per kilogram cells.  A battery able to store one kilowatt of energy in one kilogram (2.2 pounds) would be an enormous breakthrough for electric aviation.  Under “stealth” development before being announced in 2023, the battery could become a fitting companion to the lightweight motors and controllers Wright is crafting. ARPA-E (the Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy)  rewards some very creative teams.  One winning team combines Wright Electric and Columbia University in an effort to develop tomorrow’s 4X batteries. Three Project Parts ARPA-E awarded $1,499,098 to  “support development of an ultra-energy-dense aluminum battery and novel artificial intelligence system.”  Part of the Plane Electrification with 1K energy storage systems program (PROPEL-1K), the award will fund what Wright promotes as “Air-1, [an] elevated temperature battery designed for …

Helios Horizon Aims for New Highs

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Altitude records are tricky.  Aiming for new heights requires careful definition of one’s launch points, means of elevating oneself, and apparently adherence to a tightly defined set of rules.  Helios Horizon set some new altitude records last year, and hopes to reach even higher soon.  Its eventual goal is to fly “into earth’s stratosphere”– in an electric aircraft. Records at Altitude – and Speed This might seem like a bit of a step down for Miguel Iturmendi, the founder and test pilot for the Helios Horizon project.  He’s already been to 65.605 feet (19.9 kilometers) in Perlan II, on August 28, 2018.  As the Saratoga Times notes, the flight hit “The fastest known speed of Mach 0.48—roughly half the speed of sound—in a glider over El Calafate, Argentina, which earned him and his team the Society of Flight Test Engineers’ James S. McDonnell Award, as well as a Triple Lennie Pin (an aviation award for soaring named for the lenticular clouds …

Climate Impulse – Not at All Impulsive

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Born of the heritage of the Solar Impulse Foundation and taking it further, Climate Impulse wants to showcase concrete technologies that can revolutionize the aviation industry, and the mobility sector in general. Two Well-Travelled Partners We are all familiar with the exploits of Bertrand Piccard, which include the first circumnavigations of the globe in a balloon and more recently in a solar aircraft.  He comes from a family of explorers who have climbed the heights and plumbed the depths of our world.  We are probably less familiar with an equally intrepid adventurer, Raphael Dinelli. Dinelli attempted a solar circumnavigation of the globe as part of the 1996-1997 Globe Vendee competition.  He didn’t quite make it full circle, sinking in the Indian Ocean.  The Australian Air Force dropped a life raft to him and then he was pulled to safety by another competitor, Peter Goss.  According to Wikipedia, “He went on to sail with Goss in the 1997 edition of the …

A Different Kind of Blown Wing

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32 Motors across a long Wing Cosmic Aerospace has announced a different kind of “blown wing,” hiding 32 specially developed electric turbines across the inner span of a high-aspect-ratio wing. Cosmic will attempt to achieve jet-like speeds at half the cost of fossil-fuel or sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) powered jet. Electric-flight.eu notes the American-Belgian firm was founded by “graduates of Boom Supersonic, NASA, Oxford and Kittyhawk,” a broad spectrum of talent.  Part of that team is creating a fully-electric “jet engine,” currently under test at Limburg Regional Airport in Belgium. The motors will be fed by packs of 360-Watt-hour per kilogram batteries, achievable with today’s technology.  This enables up to 1,000 kilometer (600 mile) range for a long-winged craft carrying 24 passengers.  “Unlike other startups in the field, which are mostly focused on sustainable jet fuels, hydrogen, and battery tech, Cosmic has focused its engineering efforts on better propulsion systems and a unique air frame design, CEO Christopher Chahine told …