Solid State Batteries with a Liquid Chaser

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

What if our assumptions prove wrong?  How willing are we to at least examine closely-held beliefs and accept a new, scientific finding?  Sandia engineers are demonstrating that solid-state batteries containing a little liquid electrolyte can be safer than conventional lithium-ion cells. PV Buzz included a great executive summary in their article on the findings: A new study tackled a long-held assumption that adding some liquid electrolyte to improve performance would make solid-state batteries unsafe. Instead, the research team found that in many cases solid-state batteries with a little liquid electrolyte were safer than their lithium-ion counterparts. They also found, if the battery were to short-circuit, releasing all its stored energy, the theoretically super-safe, all-solid-state battery could put out a dangerous …

Textron Acquires Pipistrel: A Good Thing?

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

Textron acquires Pipistrel – just another merger?  An age-old cartoon shows ever-bigger fish gobbling up smaller fish, a kind of allegory for capitalist, competitive markets, perhaps.  In the electric flight world, this acquisitive spirit is exemplified by the news that Textron, “home to Cessna, Beechcraft, and Bell aviation brands,” is purchasing the smaller Slovenian firm Pipistel.  Pipistrel has grown from humble origins producing powered hang gliders to its current status as a major supplier of small training aircraft,  electric motor gliders and trainers and cargo vehicles. What might be great joy for Ivo Boscarol, founder and CEO of Pipistrel, comes with varying degrees of happiness and concern for others.  Boscarol will remain as Chairman Emeritus and minority stockholder for the …

Remembering Jack Norris

Dean Sigler Basic Science Research Program, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Jack Norris, an aviation and space pioneer, died on December 21, 2021.  Holder of more than 50 aerospace patents, many conceived during his time with NASA, he was a constantly inventive presence in the aviation world. The Experimental Aircraft Association shares a short autobiographical sketch with an incredible number of highlights.  As a youth, Jack was twice the Senior Overall National Model Aircraft Champion in 1946 and 1948. Later, he created Boeing’s flight controls, which allowed safe flights for over four billion of us.  107 of his maneuvering rocket control valves flew on Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions, and are now in the Smithsonian. He was the Technical Director for the Voyager, Burt Rutan’s airplane that carried Dick Rutan and …

Single-Seat eVTOL Commuters

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Single-seat ultralight aircraft are a popular part of personal aviation and a small part of the growing electric Vertical Take Off and Landing (eVTOL) market.  We look at two contenders here, and compare them to a newly-certificated single-seat fixed-wing solar-assisted airplane. KARI’s QTP-UAV KARI – the Korean Aerospace Research Institute – has developed the QTP-UAV, or Quad Tilt-Prop Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.  It’s designated as yet another acronym – OPPAV, Optionally Piloted Personal Air Vehicle Technology Demonstrator. Citing the “Emerging market competition for urban air mobility,” KARI sees their craft as a means to reduce the “enormous social costs resulting from traffic increase on the ground.” A huge number of Korean organizations joined the effort develop the OPPAV demonstrator. “Korean companies …

Gogoro Goes Solid State

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Gogoro, a Taiwan-based scooter and battery system, has added solid state chemistry to its swappable batteries.  This increases the stored energy in each 9 kilogram (19.8 pound) pack from 1.7 kilowatt-hours of the current liquid electrolyte to 2.5 kWhr.  These packs are light enough for a small woman to handle, as shown in Gogoro’s promotional videos. Growing GoStations Swapping batteries on Gogoro’s own scooters is quick and convenient, with over “10,000 battery-swapping GoStations at over 2,300 locations,” by the firm’s own count.  They serve over 450,000 riders with over 340,000 daily swaps.  Powering 95-percent of all electric two-wheel scooters on the island nation, they’ve “hosted” more than 260,000,000 total battery swaps to date.  Gogoro boasts their “Network subscribers have swapped …

Wright Electric’s 8-Year Plan

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

Jeffrey Engler has headed up Wright Electric for the last decade, working to provide efficient motors, inverters and overall power systems for airliners.  Now, his firm is working to develop those airliners.  From a startup in 2016, looking for a single-engine light aircraft to convert to hybrid power, Jeffrey has grown Wright to a recognized force in future flight.  Presenting a mission statement and schedule for the next eight years, Wright has ambitious, but reasonable plans. Currently, Wright is testing a two megawatt motor and inverter, “Collaborating with NASA, U.S. Department of Energy, and U.S. Department of Defense.”  Testing will continue through 2023. The firm predicts it will be flying its Wright Spirit between the busiest “city-pairs” in the world …

Pratt & Whitney HySIITE Hydrogen and Steam Engine

Dean Sigler Announcements, hydrogen, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

A (Partially) Steam Engine in the Sky?  Pratt & Whitney announces that it, “Has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DoE) to develop novel, high-efficiency hydrogen-fueled propulsion technology for commercial aviation, as part of DoE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).” Their press release continues, “The Hydrogen Steam Injected, Inter‐Cooled Turbine Engine (HySIITE) project will use liquid hydrogen combustion and water vapor recovery to achieve zero in-flight CO2 emissions, while reducing nitrogen-oxide (NOx) emissions by up to 80 percent and reducing fuel consumption by up to 35 percent for next generation single-aisle aircraft.” P&W claims their HySIITE engine’s steam injection will “dramatically reduce” nitrogen oxide emissions, a greenhouse gas.  “The semi-closed system architecture is claimed to have thermal efficiency …

Airbus and CFM: Flying on Hydrogen Power by 2035

Dean Sigler Announcements, Fuel Cells, hydrogen, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Airbus and engine maker CFM International have signed a partnership agreement on a hydrogen demonstration program that could see commercial flights by 2035.  CFM is a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. The team announced its intentions in an hour-long introduction on February 22, with members from the companies explaining the goals of the project.  A view of what they intend to do with Airbus 380 serial number one gives a view inside the cavernous craft. As pointed out in a Green Car Congress article, the main objective is to develop and flight test a direct combustion engine fueled by liquid hydrogen. The Biggest Test Bed ZeroAvia seeks to get a 20-passenger liner in flight by 2024 …

The AOS-H2 Hydrogen-powered Motor Glider

Dean Sigler Batteries, Fuel Cells, Hybrid Aircraft, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

A university in Poland has conceived, built and tested – but not flown, the AOS-H2, a hydrogen-powered motor glider. In 2013, the blog covered the test flights of a battery-powered electric two-seat motorglider designed at the Warsaw (Poland) University of Technology.   Now, a similar design, the AOS-H2 has been crafted to fly on power generated by a hydrogen fuel cell.  Early tests in 2020, “Confirmed that all units work correctly.” The “Hybrid Propulsion System Based on Hydrogen Fuel Cells in a Light Aircraft” is funded under the “Applied Research III” Program by the National Centre for Research and Development.  Professor Marek Orkisz Ph.D., D. Sc., Eng. Of the Rzeszów University of Technology is Program Manager. As noted in the University’s …

Amprius Ships 450 Watt-hour per Kilogram Batteries

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Hybrid Aircraft, Sky Taxis, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Your editor’s first outing at an electric aircraft symposium was in 2009.  At that meeting, Dr. Yi Cui, Stanford professor and battery expert, talked about silicon and its energy density being so much greater than that for graphite.  He predicted huge advances for battery chemistry – and now he’s delivering.  His firm, Amprius, is shipping 450 Watt-hour per kilogram batteries.  Unlike many such companies, Amprius is not projecting these numbers several years out, but delivering now. According to their February 8 press release, Amprius sent its first batch of the energy-dense cells, “…To an industry leader of a new generation of High-Altitude Pseudo Satellites (HAPS).”  Your editor guesses that leader is Zephyr, acquired by Airbus and setting endurance records on …