DARPA ANCILLARY Fields eVTOLs

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DARPA (the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) has announced a competition for ANCILLARY (AdvaNced airCraft Infrastructure-Less Launch And RecoverY eVTOLs), or electric Vertical Take Off and Landing vehicles.  (That’s about as tortured an acronym as we could cram into a lead paragraph.) The goal, to develop a Class 3 unmanned VTOL aircraft capable of flying all-weather missions from ships or land, has been responded to by several industry leaders.  These have been winnowed to six “finalists” who will craft demonstration models of their respective designs. DARPA’s announcement includes the following: “The UAS would be able to launch and recover from ship flight decks and small austere land locations in adverse weather without additional infrastructure equipment, thus enabling expeditionary deployments. Unlike large VTOL systems, the small UAS size would allow many aircraft to be stored and operated from one ship creating a tactical beyond-line-of-site (BLOS) multi-intelligence sensor network capability.” The Six Finalists Phase Ia of the competition reduced the number of …

Hold Your Hydrogen – GTL Does

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GTL. Gloyer-Taylor Laboratories Inc, is a specialist composite manufacturer and it validates LH2 composite dewar tanks for use in aviation.  Recently, they shared that, “In-depth results from the successful validation testing of its small, subscale composite vacuum jacketed dewar tank with liquid hydrogen (LH2).” Think of a dewar as a large thermos bottle and you won’t be far from reality.  “A cryogenic storage dewar (or simply dewar) is a specialized type of vacuum flask used for storing cryogens (such as liquid nitrogen or liquid helium), whose boiling points are much lower than room temperature. It is named after inventor James Dewar, who developed it for his own work. They are commonly used in low-temperature physics and chemistry.” (Wikipedia) The company explained, “Test results exceeded expectations regarding holding hard vacuum, heat load, rapid chill-down and hydrogen fraction goal, leading to flight prototype fabrication. “ The company reports, “When fully isolated, the dewar tank held hard vacuum at 2.8.e-6 torr (5.414e-9 psi) for …

DLR’s EXACT Future Dreams

Dean Sigler Batteries, Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, hydrogen, Hydrogen Fuel, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

DLR, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt) predicts practical ways to achieve dreams of carbon neutral flight.  EXACT (Exploration of Electric Aircraft Concepts and Technologies Projects is not an exact depiction of aircraft on the drawing board, but a conceptual program for creating the craft and infrastructure of future flight. The EXACT project is developing a concept for climate-friendly flying in commercial aviation and takes into account the complete life cycle of an aircraft, its components and its fuel.  DLR looks beyond the aircraft designs themselves to include sustainable energy sources, powerplant types, and even flight route planning. Goals and Approaches The plan cites the following goals and approaches: “New DLR aviation strategy charts the research path towards emission-free flying. “The energy requirements of upcoming aircraft must be reduced to at least half by 2050. “The climate-neutral aviation of the future requires highly efficient aircraft configurations and an intelligent mix of alternative drive concepts. “Climate-optimized flight …

Two eVTOLs You Can Buy and Fly Now

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Two eVTOLs (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing) aircraft are available for purchase right now, presenting owners with potential thrills 20 minutes at a time.  One delivers wind between the toes (if you’re wearing sandals) and the other keeps you dry and even allows water landings.  In airplane economics, they offer “affordable” flying. Though different in appearance and aerodynamics, both machines have triple-redundant flight controls and intrinsic safety features that enable the manufacturers to offer them with relatively few restrictions and fairly easy training sessions. Both qualify as hover bikes/personal flying devices in the eVTOL.com listings of the over 600 aerial electric vehicles.  Both have eight motors and a battery pack that allows about 20 minutes of flight. We’ve turned to the eVTOL News from the Vertical Flight Society for many of the details on each machine. Jetson One An early video of a Jetson One dashing over a desert so enraptured Stephen Colbert two years ago he was begging …

Vaeridion: Multi Motors with One Propeller

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Emulating Otto Lilienthal Vaeridion, a German startup, plans on building a long-winged regional airliner for nine passengers that purportedly transports them on very low levels of energy. Their design philosophy, summed up on the first page of their web site, echoes the idea propounded by Otto Lilienthal, “The key to flying lies in wing design, not in more powerful engines.  Vaeridion embraces this ideal in their approach.  “As clean energy is scarce and a transition to zero emission mobility is essential, we need a paradigm shift. “Therefore, we have focused on energy-efficient aircraft design that makes a difference. Our electric Microliner can fly with the lowest energy consumption for up to 9 passengers plus crew, for distances up to 500 [kilometers].” Vaeridion’s Microliner, a slender craft carried on long, high-aspect-ratio wings, will be powered by a remarkable two-motor, single-propeller powerplant. According to ERA, the European Regional Airline Association, “VÆRIDION is accelerating the green transformation of aviation with a small electric …

A Six Pipistrel Formation

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Ready to Set Records Again You may remember these guys from the conclusion to a successful, electrically-powered flight in a Pipistrel Velis from their base in Switzerland to the North Sea in 2020. They set several world records in that attempt, and showed how a resourceful team could overcome the lack of an electrical charging infrastructure between Schänis, Switzerland) and Norderney on the northern German coast. Review that team’s list of accomplishments here and in the Sustainable Skies entries by your editor from September 6, 2020 and September 12, 2020.   The team’s official web site contains many records set on the flight, with fairly astonishing numbers for electricity used, much lower than the equivalent fuel that would have been consumed by a petrol-powered Pipistrel. Like many aviation records, the mountain-to-sea adventure was a lonely one, shared mainly with the few at destination airports and the ground crews who carried chargers and other gear to each stop.  The team is moving …

Toyota’s Solid State Battery Returns

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Toyota has had an on-again off-again relationship with solid-state batteries for over a decade.  Making plans to introduce such an energy storage device seems to be a priority right now, but still one in a “near-future” way and behind Chinese competitors. This video explains the advantages and disadvantages of solid-state batteries, but be cautious in terms of its assessments.  Several manufacturers have demonstrated capabilities that overshadow some ot the complaints here, as shown in recent blog entries. Panasonic Takeover As part of its immediate plans for battery development, Toyota is taking over its 28-year battery joint venture with Panasonic. The Register reports, “For an undisclosed sum Primearth EV Energy (PEVE) will become a wholly owned subsidiary of Toyota beginning in late March in an effort to ‘strengthen its capabilities in mass-producing automotive batteries,’ according to the Japanese automaker.” Already making prismatic nickel–metal hydride (Ni-MH) and lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery packs for Toyota’s hybrid and EV brands, PEVE will expand into tackle battery …

Even More Solid-State Batteries

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We have a few more solid- or semi-solid-state  batteries to share in this round of encouraging battery news.  We start with an overview by Dave Borlace that includes a few batteries discussed in last week’s entry, and some interesting takes on three more makers. WeLion/NIO and Must See TV Setting a 650 mile record on a single charge, the NIO ET7 managed altitude, temperature, and distance.   “The 14-hour journey from Shanghai to Xiamen breaks barriers, despite cold temperatures (starting off in 28° F (-2°C), proving the electric vehicle’s remarkable capabilities.”  Going that far on a single charge is an appreciable accomplishment.  Critics cite the 150 kilowatt-hour battery as being half-again as energy-packed as most EVs pack, but the relatively light weight of the pack allows the additional energy to be carried.  William Li, NIO’s CEO and Chairman, set the car on “the NOP+ semi-autonomous driving system activated for 92% of the journey.  The average speed was 83.9 km/h (52.13 mph),” …

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.  …