Electron’s 2024 Round the World Plans

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

Teofilo Leite has been refining a beautiful twin-motor glider for the last decade.  Apparently he’s moving on to a five-seat, four-motor, dual-propeller beauty that is set to take on the world.  The Electron 5 looks a great deal like a larger Electron 2, which has been flying in various configurations for the last decade. Electron Aviation, with representatives in The Netherlands and Australia states, “Our Electron 2, a two-seater battery-electric aircraft (Teofilo’s earlier design), is the flying proof that our energy efficient aircraft designs deliver outstanding performance. Whilst being well within inside the 600-kilogram (1,320 pound) ultralight microlight [regulations], it achieves 3 hours flying time during which it can cover 300 kilometers (186 miles).”  Electron 2 flies its pilot and …

Koenigsegg’sTorque-Dense Electric Motor and Hybrid Drive Train

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Koenigsegg (Cone-igs-egg), a Swedish car maker that enjoys shocking with its sticker prices, is going hybrid with a new, torque-dense electric motor and hybrid drive train.  The Swedish car maker is known for its ultra-exclusive, ultra-high-performance vehicles, which have even undone the Stig, anonymous race driver on the BBC Series Top Gear. David Koenigsegg’s Gemera manages as much as 250 mph on a two-liter, three-cylinder engine, augmented by a set of three electric motors.  Describing him as, “an inveterate tinkerer” who squeezes “extraordinary amounts of power out of internal combustion engines,” Clean Technica explains the “breakthrough products that could transform the world of electric cars.” One “breakthrough” would seem to be a package of a three-cylinder engine coupled to some …

A Belated Addition to the Fred To Video

Dean Sigler Announcements, Electric Powerplants, Solar Power, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Fred To (pronounced “toe”), the first to create and fly a solar-powered aircraft, was the subject of a blog entry in 2018.  Fred just informed your editor that the second part of the Solar One video was missing.  Herewith, we will rectify that grievous error.  It’s worth a second look at the older blog entry, since Fred deserves attention for his pioneering work in solar flight, inflatable aircraft, human-powered aviation, and fly-by-wire technology.  The much belated Part 2 includes “the actual solar-powered flights,” as Fred notes below.   He added, “I’ve taken a back-seat with the cross Channel competition but still very much in it. We have delayed it till 2023 due to the effects of Covid….”  This contest will see …

Autoflight Lifts Off and Transitions

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sky Taxis, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Autoflight, the latest outlet for Tian Yu’s creativity, has demonstrated a successful transition from vertical lift to forward flight.  Yu, the founder and CEO of Yuneec, fielded a wide range of drones, motors, and eventually an ultralight electric aircraft under the Greenwings name. Yuneec Goes to Oshkosh He managed to obtain FAA approval for flights of his Yuneec e430, an electric two-seat lightplane, at Oshkosh in 2009.  At that time, Ed Warnock, CEO of the Perlan Project, called your editor to allow him to hear Yuneec powerplants humming audibly in their display area on Wittman Field. Eric Lindbergh tested the Yuneec e-Spyder, a derivation of Tom Pehigny’s design.  A pair of e-Spyders showed up at AirVenture in 2013, becoming the …

Electra Attracts Customers, Investors and Landing Sites

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Electra Aero has found worldwide interest in its electric ultra-short take-off and landing airplane, an eight-motor craft capable of taking off and landing across most jet-size runways. Producing such an aircraft takes great design, appropriately-designed landing sites, a well-integrated infrastructure, and financial backing for the total package. Electra Aero for the Design Powered by a hybrid generator driving four electric motors, Electra Aero’s aircraft uses “blown lift” to take off over very short distances – less than 150 feet, according to the company. Ben Marchionna, director of technology and innovation at Electra Aero, explains, “eVTOLs use electric propulsion to take off and land vertically – many of these concepts then transition from vertical flight to forward flight with a wing …

ZeroAvia Comes to the Pacific Northwest

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In the Everett (Washington) Herald Janice Podsada reports, “ZeroAvia, which currently has offices in London and in Hollister, California, plans to invest $5.5 million to ready an Everett site for a team of 20 design and software engineers.”  This will be a new entry in Snohomish County, a location already supporting over 500 aerospace companies. Everett, site for Boeing Aircraft’s huge production facility, is also home to MagniX, poised to power aircraft such as Eviation’s Alice, currently preparing for test flights in Arlington, about 18 miles north.  ZeroAvia will accept, “A $350,000 grant to convert a warehouse at the Snohomish County-owned airport into a research-and-development facility.” Val Miftakhov, ZeroAvia’s founder, explained the importance of the state’s Department of Commerce grant. “Given …

Stanford’s Ultra-thin Solar Cell

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We’ve noted here recently that early (and even current) examples of solar-powered aircraft suffered from the low efficiency of the panels that collected sunlight to power them.  The panels add weight, and so far, nobody’s flying with more than 29-percent efficiency.  What if a different approach, using ultra-thin solar cells covered the entire aircraft?  That’s the possibility with Stanford University’s “new, ultrathin photovoltaic materials.” Your Editor’s take on this is that 5.1-percent efficiency now offered by the Stanford solar cells could be applied by wrapping the entire plane, much like car customizers wrap high-end automobiles.  That’s occurred to researchers.  “Imagine an autonomous drone that powers itself with a solar array atop its wing that is 15 times thinner than a …

Zeva Aero’s Zero Test Flight in Full Size

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While waiting for Eviation Alice’s first test flight, we got a glimpse of another type of electric aviation in Pacific Northwest skies.  Zeva Aero’s Zero single “seat” flying saucer lifted off in someone’s sunny back yard for a series of hops. The overlay of soft music keeps us from knowing how noisy this thing is, and it would be of interest to know if it passed the good neighbor test while levitating, and whether the eight motors and propellers hummed or screamed.  (NOTE: since the video of the flight test has been removed from YouTube, we’re substituting the company campaign video. Founded in 2017 “to compete in the Boeing GoFly competition and then build a business on the back of …

Nanotech Energy – A “Solution” to the Lithium Battery?

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Hot Pockets Introduced at this year’s CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show), Nanotech Energy’s Graphene-Organolyte™ Advanced Li-ion Battery (winner of a CES 2022 Innovation Award) merits a look.  At least partly intended to stop battery fires, always hot news despite their relative rarity (compared to the 170,000+ petrol car fires every year), Nanotech explains its concern.  “A battery, if shorted, could become a fireball bomb nearly impossible to extinguish using conventional techniques. In February 2018, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reported over 25,000 overheating and battery fire incidents involving more than 400 types of consumer products over a five-year period. Clearly, building safer batteries will be critical for the future of energy storage technology.” Keep in mind that “consumer …

Copper for Solar Cells

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Solar cells are older than we perhaps knew, and their efficiency was low in their early development.  They were also remarkably expensive.  Today, though, materials like perovskite are making new, less-expensive and reasonably efficient cells possible.  Swapping copper for the more expensive silver conductors may help make these cells even more rewarding.  In a further development, a simple plastic film wrap may make perovskite cells safer. A Long History of Low Efficiency Two dates stand out in Wikipedia’s recounting of solar cell development: 1839 –Edmond Becquerel observes the photovoltaic effect via an electrode in a conductive solution exposed to light. 1883 – Charles Fritts develops a solar cell using selenium on a thin layer of gold to form a device …