Green Aviation at COP21

Dean Sigler Biofuels, Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Hybrid Aircraft, Solar Power Leave a Comment

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COP21, the Congress of Parties 21 – the 21st gathering of nations and organizations working toward an agreement on reducing greenhouse gases, has concluded with what many conclude to be a historic turn from fossil fuels to cleaner, greener means of powering the world’s economy.  At a gala “SolutionsCOP21 – Celebrate the Champions Night” at the Grand Palais on the Champs-Élysées in Paris, leaders in demonstrating clean energy solutions were honored and awarded.

Globe-straddling solar aviation and electric commuter helicopters showed a few of the environmentally conscientious directions aviation has taken and in which sustainable flight can take flight in the near future.

Eraole, Mignet’s Formula Redefined

Eraole, with its first motor run at COP21, is a tandem-winged cruiser that will fly on a combination of solar power and biologically-derived algae fuel driving its single electric motor.  The 14 meter wings and large horizontal tail provide space for 43 square meters (462.8 square feet) of 24-percent efficient solar cells. These will be assisted by a range extender fueled by “decarbonized” oil.

The airplane will start flight testing in January, with a flight between Long Island, New York and Le Bourget, France, with more details to come.

Raphael Dinelli holds one of 1,600 liters of bio-Diesel that will help Eraole cross the Atlantic - along with sunshine

Raphael Dinelli holds one of 280 liters of bio-Diesel that will help Eraole cross the Atlantic – along with sunshine.  (Corrected December 19)

Raphaël Dinelli, an accomplished sailor, is leading a team of ten people based at Sables d’Olonne (Vendée).  Along with developing small wind turbines and patented encapsulated solar cells with 24-percent efficiency,  the team has designed Eraole, a two-seat, tandem-winged biplane.  It’s 7.5 meters (24.6 feet) long and has a wingspan of 14 meters (45.9 feet).  Patterned after the Henri Mignet aircraft of the 1930’s its more modern aerodynamics should make it a more stable performer – utterly necessary for a trans-Atlantic flight that will keep the single pilot up for 60 hours.

Its power will come from use of the team’s solar cells (20 percent) and a bio fuel-fired Diesel generator to recharge the plane’s batteries (80 percent).  We’ll have more technical details in a separate entry coming soon.

Solar Impulse Fields an Ambassador

Solar Impulse did not have its gigantic airplane on view, but Andre’ Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard were highly visible throughout the sessions, with Piccard being named a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

As reported by the organization, “UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said: ‘In creating the Solar Impulse Foundation Bertrand Piccard has demonstrated how innovation and clean technologies are crucial to a sustainable future. More than this, he and his fellow pilot André Borschberg have shown we are already living in that future.

“‘When Bertrand’s plane takes off again from Hawaii, people of the world will live the adventure alongside him. As Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Environment Program, every hour of his flight and preparations will be an opportunity for him and the Solar Impulse team to bring those people closer to a vision UNEP has advocated and supported in our work for many years.’”

“Bertrand Piccard said: ‘This designation is an encouragement to continue showing how many incredible things can be done with renewable energies, but also to implement more energy efficient technologies in our world.’”

Volocopter Adds to Its Laurels

 To cap years of development, designers, builders and test pilots at e-Volo received the “Climate Champion COP 21” award for their Volocopter, an electric, two-seat commuter hailed as an “environment-friendly mobility concept of the future with which public transport could partially take off” into the third dimension in the near future. “

Florian Reuter (CEO, e-volo GmbH), Frans Nauta (Climate-KIC, Netherlands) and Alexander Zosel (Founder & CEO, e-volo GmbH)

Florian Reuter (CEO, e-volo GmbH), Frans Nauta (Climate-KIC, Netherlands) and Alexander Zosel (Founder & CEO, e-volo GmbH) with e-Volo’s Climate Champian certificate

e-Volo describes the moment and its significance.  “Frans Nauta, head of Climate-KIC Netherlands, presented the prize to the managing directors Alex Zosel and Florian Reuter as part of the festive event on the 4th of December.  Nauta described the Volocopter as an In the process, no transport infrastructure, such as roads, tunnels, or bridges, would have to be built and carbon dioxide emissions would also not increase during flight operation. Therefore, valuable natural landscapes can be preserved. The international award is a special honor for e-volo since it values the efforts of the Karlsruhe startup for mobility that is ecologically acceptable.”

SolarStratos – Near Space Tourism

Raphael Domjan has a nautical background like M. Dinelli, helming the PlanetSolar boat propelled by sunshine to sail around the world, and having made an attempt with a partner to take two  solar-assisted kayaks through the fabled Northwest Passage.  His team brought a PlanetSolar simulator to the Grand Palais along with the kayaks and several movies of Domjan’s adventures, including SolarStratos.

Promising a flight to see the stars at noon over the visible curve of the earth, Domjan's SolarStratos might be a budget alternative to Spaceship 2

Promising a flight to see the stars at noon over the visible curve of the earth, Domjan’s SolarStratos might be a budget alternative to Spaceship 2

His next realm to conquer is in the skies, where his SolarStratos two-seat motor glider will take paying passengers to the high stratosphere or the lower heavens depending on one’s point of view.

All the designers, builders and adventurers who showed their green aviation credentials at COP21 are to be admired, and we hope, imitated by others who want to fill tomorrow’s blue skies with clean machines, treading quietly along the footless halls.

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