The Cellsius AC4 Hydrogen Project

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, hydrogen, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The Cellsius AC4 Lightwing is a capable microlight aircraft popular in Europe.  As part of a project to clean up aviation, it will fly on hydrogen, and for good distances if students at ETH Zurich* are successful in their project. Students are modifying a Lightwing to run on pressurized H2, and crafting motor, fuel system, tanks, power electronics, and battery backup system to make a coordinated, custom-fitted craft.  It will stay aloft for two hours and emit nothing but water vapor. The project’s web site spells out the students’ ambitions.  “Our powertrain consists of many components that together can get an aircraft into the air. “To make this a reality, we develop the majority of our components ourselves, tailored to our requirements.” Components include a radial-flux motor, unusual in that most electric aircraft motors are axial flux.  Students worked with e+a (Elektromaschinen und Antriebe) AG to design and construct the unit.  With that motor, students helped design a matching inverter …

Jaunt Journey – Maybe the Most Unique eVTOL

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The Jaunt Journey may be the most unique eVTOL (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) machine coming to market, and it relies on something old and several things new for its advanced take on Advanced Air Mobility (AAM).  What makes it special is its combining autogiro-like technology with electric power and some different approaches to the transitions between vertical and horizontal flight. Jaunt promises to carry a pilot and four passengers 80 to 120 miles, pushing it into the realm of regional air mobility.  It can top out at 175 miles per hour, or about the upper limits of most helicopters while pressing down with only 55 dBa of sound pressure, considerably below that of any helicopter.  Its performance and several distinguishing features make it all the more unique. Somewhat Like an Autogiro Autogiros were pre-helicopter rotary-wing aircraft that could lift off and alight quickly because of a large, usually un-driven, series of blades above the fuselage.  Note how easily …

The Wright Battery Program

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Jeff Engler of Wright Electric wants it all.  He wants lightweight, high-power electric motors and inverters to control them.  He wants lightweight generators and now lightweight, high energy density batteries to store that electricity.  He wants to meet the goal that, “By 2040, Wright will eliminate carbon emissions from all flights under 800 miles.” A more recent iteration of the company’s web site includes the goal of “Decarbonizing the industries that are hardest to decarbonize.” These would seem heady ideals but Wright Electric seems to be making steady progress toward fulfilling those goals. The Motor Their motor has been tested to 1,000 kilowatts (1,340 horsepower), with expectations that it could reach 2,000 kW (2,680 hp.).  According to Aviation Week, “The motor produced 1 megawatt of peak power on a dynamometer test stand at Wright’s facility in Albany, New York. The company has signed a Space Act Agreement with NASA to test the motor in an altitude chamber at the NASA …

Solar Airship One – a Grand Voyage Awaits

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Fuel Cells, hydrogen, Hydrogen Fuel, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 3 Comments

Having circumnavigated the world by balloon and solar-powered aircraft, Bertrand Piccard is ready to make a third around-the-world flight – this time in Solar Airship One, powered by the sun and hydrogen fuel cells.  Able to make the 40,000 kilometer (24,855 mile) trip in one gigantic hop, the 151 meters (495.4 feet) long craft will be borne aloft on 50,000 cubic meters (1,766,000 cubic feet) of helium. Unlike his lonely stints at the controls of Solar Impulse 2, Piccard will be joined by two worthy co-pilots; Dorine Bourneton, “The first disabled woman to become an aerobatic pilot (Bourneton was severely injured at age 16 in an aircraft accident) and Michel Tognini, a former French Air Force fighter pilot and European Space Agency astronaut (Tognini has been twice to space, in 1992 and 1999).”  The Craft Its helium sealed in 15 large gas bags that emulate the shape of the airship, the ship carries 50,000 cubic meters (1.77 million cubic feet) …

Ever Greater Range for Elektra Solar

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A Second Win Having just come in a close second in a race against an electric car, Elektra Solar’s Trainer attained a Personal Best in range for a flight between Munich, Germany and Bern, Switzerland, a distance of 313 kilometers (194.5 miles).  Calin Gologan noted the route from its home field in München Oberpfaffenhofen to Bern Airport) was highly symbolic, starting from the site where, “We founded the company (Elektra Solar) 10 years ago as a startup from the DLR Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics in Oberpfaffenhofen.  We were now able to fly our aircraft purely electrically from the DLR location directly to the Electrifly-in location in Bern.”  Pilot Uwe Nortmann flew in both outings, both extending the range achieved by this type of electric aircraft. As Calin points out on his Facebook page, “Last year we won this contest with a leg of about 190 km (118.1 miles). A huge progress in one year.”  Looking forward to closing the …

H2Fly Achieves HEAVEN’s Goal

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H2Fly has an historic aircraft in its fleet, the HY4, as part of the HEAVEN program to, “Demonstrate the use of liquid, cryogenic hydrogen in aircraft.”  Originally the G4, the craft won the NASA Green Flight Challenge in 2011, posting a passenger mile per gallon efficiency of 403.5 – equivalent to driving your loaded Prius from San Francisco to Los Angeles on under four gallons of fuel.  Resurrected as the HY4 and flown on gaseous hydrogen, the craft has been reconfigured to fly on liquid hydrogen, expanding its range significantly. According to the HEAVEN program, “The hydrogen-electric ‘HY4’ demonstrator aircraft took off from Maribor, Slovenia, and saw safe and efficient operation throughout multiple flight tests.”  Announced September 7, these were the first piloted flights of a liquid hydrogen fueled aircraft.  Four flights, including one that lasted over three hours, “Lay the foundation for long-range, emissions-free flight, with liquid hydrogen doubling the range of the HY4 aircraft to 1,500[kilometers], compared to …

1,000 Kilometers With an Electric Microlight

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Materials, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Your editor is publishing this multi-country adventure from Daniel Ramsier recounting of his 1,000 kilometer trip in an electric microlight, with some of his outstanding photographs.  It’s a truly epic outing that shows ingenuity, great engineering, and a resolute spirit combined to show how much can be accomplished with a very small material involvement.  The story highlights Paul MacCready’s advice to do more with much less. Regardless that it was leisurely journey, averaging 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) per day, it was still a test of Daniel’s hardihood and his craft’s reliability. Yes, it’s definitely possible to fly and travel “electric”. Taking off from Gruyère (LSGT) in Switzerland on July 15, I arrived in Kyjov in the Czech Republic in 40 days and 22 legs, invited by Marek Wolhard, a paraplegic 3-axis ultralight instructor pilot who had followed @handiflight around the world. My nano-trike was developed by Ales Hubacek of skyjam-aircraft.com in Zurich. Light and strong, made entirely of titanium, its very …

A Race Between an Elektra Solar Trainer and a Lucid Air Sedan

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A race last week between an Elektra Solar Trainer and a Lucid Air sedan shows the great strides made in electrification for both cars and airplanes. Electrive.com reports, “A special race went down this week in Germany, setting an electric car against an ultra-light electric aircraft in the ‘E-Flight Challenge 2023.’” This was a relatively high-end affair, as is often true at the onset of new technologies replacing more well-established ones.  The Lucid Air sedan comes in several levels of performance and trim, with the least expensive starting at $78,900.  The “Pure” rear-wheel drive features a single 480 horsepower motor and is claimed to travel up to 410 miles on a single charge.  In all-wheel drive form, it costs $83,900 and manages 384 miles on a single charge of its 92 kilowatt-hour battery.  Pures weigh around 2,100 kilograms (4,620 pounds) A great deal lighter at around 1,332 pounds maximum takeoff weight, the Elektra Solar Trainer flies on a mere 12 …

ZeroAvia Turbo Charges a Fuel Cell

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Turbo chargers were an early method of increasing power at altitude and that ZeroAvia is crafting for modern electric, fuel-cell powered aircraft. Mechanical Turbochargers During WWII, your editor’s father was a crew chief and occasional flight engineer on C-47’s, B-17’s, and B-24’s.  The bombers had turbo-charged engines to increase power as noted below. (This is just part one of three training films, all on YouTube, giving some indication of the difficulties pilots faced in pre-electronic times.) The flight manual for the B-17 includes the following notes on the turbochargers. “The B-17F has four 1200 Hp Wright Cyclone Model R-1820-97 engines of the 9-cylinder, radial, air-cooled type with a 16-to-9 gear ratio. “Each engine has a turbo-supercharger to boost manifold pressure for takeoff and maintain sea-level pressure at high altitude.”   B-24’s and other similar craft had the same type of system.   (ZeroAvia’s rough equivalent is much quieter and a loss less smoky.) The manual notes the F models had manual control of …

Silicon and Sugar Make Better Batteries

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Two groups of researchers in South Korea and America have added silicon and sugar as ways of gaining more energy from two different types of batteries. The 10X Battery at Last? Researchers at Pohang University of Science & Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea have developed a “layering-charged, polymer-based stable high-capacity anode material.”  POSTECH professors Soojin Park (Department of Chemistry) and Youn Soo Kim (Department of Materials Science and Engineering) and Professor Jaegeon Ryu (Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering) of Sogang University think their discovery could increase current electric vehicle range “at least 10-fold.” As noted in this blog many times, the idea of a 10X battery has been a matter of intense research from Yi Cui at Stanford and his research partner Jaephil Cho in South Korea, along with John Goodenough at Rice University and Jeff Dahn at Canada’s Dalhousie University – among others. Silicon and Polymeric Benders One of the bigger problems with using silicon in a battery …