The Future is Electric, and Attracting Attention

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

FlightGlobal.com, the online version of Flight International Magazine, has an overview of the electric aircraft scene in its April 6, 2010 release.   Among the many producers and proponents of electric flight noted in the article, Dr. Brien Seeley of the CAFE Foundation is quoted extensively, as is Calin Gologan of PC-Aero in Germany, both to present at the fourth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium, at Rohnert Park, California on April 23 and 24.  The article ponders the hopes of two hybrid electric aircraft powerplant developers, George Bye, featured in a February 21 entry in this blog, and Flight Design’s Oliver Reinhardt, the firm’s technical director.  Both face the issue of retrofitting existing light planes with their new engines, and the challenge of obtaining supplemental type certification for such modifications. Highlighted is the 2011 Green Flight Challenge, in which an airplane achieving 200 seat miles per gallon at 100 mph (or an alternative energy equivalent mileage) can earn the CAFE Foundation’s $1.5 …

Shaping Plastics into Inexpensive Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Dr. Yeuh-Lin Loo, an Assistant Professor in Chemical Engineering, has led a team of Princeton, University of Texas – Austin, Pennsylvania State University, University of California – Santa Barbara, and Dupont researchers in developing a conductive plastic that takes the place of expensive indium tin oxide (ITO) used in solar cells, flat-screen TVs, and other electronic devices with display screens.  ITO, a byproduct of mining, is rare and expensive, but a necessity in today’s electronics.  An inexpensive substitute would be desirable in bringing costs down and removing pressure from the growing demand for ITO.  Loo comments on this in the Princeton press release.  “The cost of indium tin oxide is skyrocketing.  To bring down the costs of plastic solar cells, we need to find a replacement for ITO. Our conducting plastics allow sunlight to pass through them, making them a viable alternative.” ITO has the characteristic of allowing sunlight to pass through its transparent structure, enabling its collection and conversion …

Silicon Alloy Anode Yields 30-Percent More Capacity

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Just for notebook computers now, enough of these -as in the over 6,000 such cells that propel a Tesla, could have a profound short-term effect on our hopes for electric flight. The 18650 (18 mm in diameter, 65 mm long) cells by Panasonic are the first to offer a silicon alloy anode, a commercial verification of the research Drs. Cui and Cho have been performing. Panasonic promises 4.0 Amp hours capacity, almost 30-percent more than current lithium cells of the same size. This allows a notebook battery pack almost half the size of one using graphite anode cells. The good news is balanced by the fact that the Si-based cell, at 54 grams each, weighs 10 grams more than the existing model. According to Nikkei Electronics Asia, “The initial target application will be notebook PCs, but a source at the firm comments ‘the ultimate target is vehicles.’ For vehicular applications, weight will be a key issue…. The weight energy density …

Give Up Smoking Today, Get Better Mileage

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Critics of biofuels often cite the contrary use of foodstocks for producing ethanol, for instance, as a process that will lead to food shortages, and consequently higher prices for fuel and food. One researcher and his graduate students are investigating a way to convert waste such as orange peels and old newspapers, and social and health irritants such as tobacco plants, and turn them into a cheap, clean fuel. Dr. Henry Daniell is head of the Biotechnology Graduate Program forthe Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. His primary fields of research include developing low-cost methods of delivering pharmaceuticals to patients in need and even vaccines to combat terrorist bioweapons. Involvement with plant-based cures probably helped lead him to this discovery, which the college describes as a possible “breakthrough of a lifetime.” Daniell’s goal is to “relegate gasoline to a secondary fuel,” with a process that uses “plant-derived enzyme cocktails” to break down …

Bye Energy’s Green Flight Project

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 5 Comments

In his presentation at AirVenture 2009, George Bye, CEO of Bye Energy, set forth some ambitious goals for his company. This included the development of a hybrid electric power system for light aircraft (under 250 horsepower) with target markets for general aviation and experimental homebuilt aircraft. Bye explained that light, powerful electric motors and Lithium-ion batteries have achieved a mature technology level that makes this an ideal time to enter this new market. On February 18, Bye introduced the proof of concept systems that will enable him to achieve this.   The Green Flight Project consists, in its first phase, of an electric motor based on the UQM 125, a 90-pound, 95-percent efficient unit that puts out up to 168 horsepower (output of the initial POC motor will be closer to 100 horsepower). A set of battery packs, totalling 200- to 300-pounds will provide power, and a dedicated motor controller and battery management system (BMS) will keep things cool and under control. …

Registration Now Open for EAS IV

Dean Sigler Sustainable Aviation, Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Registration for the Fourth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium (EAS IV) is now open.  Intense interest in this year’s excellent program, with experts from around the world providing the latest in design, technology, and real-world examples of electric flight, has produced an added benefit for this year’s attendees.   Formal presentations are only one means of exploring a wealth of information at this year’s Symposium.  The CAFE Foundation, hard-pressed to include all presenters, has scheduled Theme Dinners – an opportunity to hear short, thought-provoking presentations and enjoy lively discussions with the faculty, all accompanied by the great food and fine wines for which the Sonoma Valley is renowned.   This expanded program has already drawn an overflow of presenters.  We anticipate a similar high level of interest from attendees – and therefore urge you to register now to ensure your place at the Symposium.  Early registration for the day-and-a-half of presentations is $299, with special rates for students and media representatives.  The Foundation has arranged special room rates for attendees with …

EQ² Has a High Fuel IQ

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EQ² offers analysis services for clients around the world, their web site introduction citing their goals. “EQ² is a leader in sustainability risk management and environmental inventory systems using accurate environmental measurement and management processes to quantify, benchmark and report an organisation’s risks in regulatory compliance, operational impacts and financial costs.” Among their clients are airlines seeking advice on long-term prospects for alternatives to rapidly-diminishing fossil-derived jet fuels.  Their white paper,  Sustainable Flying: Biofuels as an Economic and Environmental Salve for the Airline Industry, besides having a provocative title, gives some hope for future development of these alternatives. One part of the paper explores the development money put into biofuels and finds that it tracks the rising and falling costs of oil and jet fuel. There’s probably no surprise there, but the charts remind us that we are sometimes reluctant to explore new territory unless some economic imperative drives us. Several aspects of biofuel production have been a source of controversy …

Ultra in the Key of E

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Protoplane, the French manufacturer of the Ultra ultralight two-seater, has big plans for increasing the efficiency of an already efficient aircraft. Their petrol-powered, 450 kilogram (990 pound) all-up weight monoplane can cruise, according to the company, at 220 kilometers per hour (137 miles per hour) on only 12 liters (a little more than 3 U. S. gallons) per hour, achieving 43 miles per gallon.  At slower speeds, the plane can stay aloft for nine hours on its 90 liters of fuel. Protoplane hopes to market the first electric two-seater in 2010, basing the design on improvements in “weight, aerodynamic efficiency, batteries, motors and propellers.” Their web site sets forth Protoplane’s objective. “Making an electric aircraft is very difficult, because one pound of mogas stores the same energy as 54 pounds of the best space designed Lithium-Ion battery cells ; So Ultra-e focus[es] on the objective of running 280 km (174 mi) at 160 km/h (100 mhp) with 21 kWh, equivalent to …

Eco-Marathon an Echo of the Green Flight Challenge

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Think of the Green Flight Challenge flown on a much smaller course, but allowing hydrogen fuel cell powered balloons to compete against liquified natural gas powered ultralight aircraft, or solar-powered autogyros.  You might get a small idea of the creativity and innovation that sponsors hope to unleash in an upcoming event. In the town of Vichy, France, at the Vichy-Charmiel airfield, on July 9-11, the Eco Marathon ULM (Ultra Light Machines) will be held to test the limits of how little energy can be used to fly an aerial craft around a closed-circuit course three times. The rules are simple. The craft using the least energy wins – like the CAFE Foundation’s 2011 Green Flight Challenge, and inspired by the Shell Marathons for high school students who build extreme vehicles that get extreme mileage. There are no speed or weight requirements outside those imposed by the French Civil Aircraft Authority (the DGAC) on the various types of aircraft. Since participants …

A Dream Nearing Realization

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Certain objects stir deep feelings upon first viewing.  DESiE is one such object. Its name alphabetizes its description, as translated and explained by one of its creators, Wolfgang Liehmann.   D = doppelsitziges = double-seated E = Enten = duck/canard = tail first S = Segelflugzeug = sailplane i = mit integriertem = with integrated E = Elektroantrieb = electrically-powered engine This two-seater, electrically-powered, canard sailplane has been a labor of love, taking 13 years to reach its current stage, and projected to take another three before its first real flight.  In the meantime, diligent toil and breaks for X-Plane simulated flying are leading toward an aircraft that Wolfgang says, “Shows very satisfying behavior with respect to stall and glide properties.”  Starting in 1993, the DESiE team found that motors of that time were not as powerful as they are now.  Wolfgang’s approach to solving that problem is indicative of the cleverness of the overall design.  He used six brushless DC …