Electra.Aero Acquires Airflow

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Too Similar Not to Have Joined Forces The PRNewswire.com press release lauds the acquisition of Airflow.aero by Electra.aero: “Hybrid-Electric Blown-Lift eSTOL Plane Developer Electra Acquires Airflow to Create a Leader in Advanced Air Mobility.”  The two companies have been developing similar multi-motor, blown-lift aircraft for the past few years.  Electra’s has eight motors distributed across its wingspan, Airflow’s has 10. They both use large multi-element flaps to divert propeller thrust downwards, enabling extremely short takeoffs and landings. A Great Idea, but Better with Electric Power This is not a new concept, having been demonstrated in the 1960s by French manufacturer Breguet and American McDonnell.  The 188 was a demonstrator that didn’t pick up any orders in either country.  The narrator …

Lifetime Batteries?

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What if your new electric car came with a steel-clad warranty on its lifetime batteries?  Your editor’s father would have asked, “Whose lifetime?” but researchers at Dalhousie University suggest that might become a reality. lIn a paper in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, “Li[Ni0.5Mn0.3Co0.2]O2 as a Superior Alternative to LiFePO4 for Long-Lived Low Voltage Li-Ion Cells,” Jeff Dahn’s research team explains a different approach to battery longevity.  The chemistry is similar to that used in millions of cells, but lowers the amount of carbon to operate at 3.8 Volts rather than 4.2 Volts.  These lower output cells, “Have an energy density that exceeds that of the LFP cells and a cycle-life that greatly exceeds that of the LFP cells …

Three Light Electric Motorgliders

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Light electric motorgliders work well in the real world.  They’re light, compact, and easily transported to a flying site or back home.  Their small battery packs can be charged at home (under safe conditions) and provide enough duration to get the small machines to altitude, where they can explore thermals and ridge lift.  Because they are small, they require less materials and are often less expensive than standard-class or larger sailplanes.  Because they can self launch, they spare the cost of towplanes and possible chase crews. Economics aside, these craft provide fun flying and fairly untroubled ownership. Birdy We’ve reported on Birdy before.  It’s a 120-kilogram airplane, a class that in Europe allows pilots with a sport license and no …

Piaggio’s Electric or Hydrogen Concept – Not Yet

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Clearing the Fumes Charles Alcock reports for FutureFlight.com, and shares that, “Piaggio Aerospace is laying plans for a possible hydrogen-electric business aircraft featuring a completely new airframe.”  Piaggio is probably better know for the Vespa scooters that dot Italian boulevards,  Those have even gone electric, a saving grace for pedestrians along the strada who won’t have to inhale two-stroke engine fumes. Piaggio makes two versions of its Elettrica – 45 Km/H (28 mph) and 70 Km/H (43.5 mph).  Both powered by a four kilowatt (5.36 horsepower) motor, driven by a 48 Volt, 25 kilogram (55 pound) battery.  The speed difference seems to be a software/firmware setting that limits the slower scooter to a regulated speed. It would seem almost natural, then, …

Electric seagliders Skimming Coastal Waters

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REGENT seaglider Skimming the Waves WIGs are Wings in Ground Effect, a type of flight that keeps one just above the sea’s surface.  Simplified, when a wing is at an altitude less than its span, it operates in a ground effects cushion that adds lift.  According to backers of REGENT’s seaglider, such a craft can skim the waters in low-level flight while providing transport cheaper and quicker than water-borne alternatives. CNN reports, “…a Boston-based start-up backed by some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investors wants to turn the sea lanes along the country’s east and west coasts into high-speed transit corridors.” The firm identifies their company name as an all-caps, proper noun acronym – Regional Electric Ground Effect Nautical Transport.  …

Group 14 Gets a Push from Porsche

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We covered Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s visit to the Group 14 Technologies battery plant in Woodinville last year.  Now the Group is getting attention from Porsche, among other funders.  The startup company announced raising $400 million from investors including the Teutonic automaker. According to Reuters, part of those funds will be used to build a second battery materials plant in eastern Washington State.  The company is now valued at over $1 billion, money which will help expand battery materials production for the silicon-lithium cell market. Silicon is a desirable material in batteries, capable of storing more energy than lithium or other metals.  It has a major drawback, though.  In expanding and contracting during charge-discharge cycles, it eventually deteriorates, crumbles, and …

Big Money for Battery Research

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With war in Ukraine threatening European and even American oil supplies, many nations are scrambling to develop and deploy cleaner sources of energy.  That’s where the U. S. Department of Energy may have a large part in backing big money for battery research.  $3.1 billion in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), “will support the creation of new, retrofitted, and expanded commercial facilities as well as manufacturing demonstrations and battery recycling.” Batteries get Billions, Big Oil Gets Trillions One sometimes wonders why the governments of the world subsidize Big Oil as much as they do.  Big Oil has created the wealthiest corporations since the Roman Empire.  First-world nations spend a tremendous amount of their wealth in extracting, …

British Craft eKub

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A Proper British Aeroplane eKub is the latest offering from The Light Aircraft Company (TLAC), a British company that specializes in modern adaptations of classic-themed flying machines.  At nearby Cranfield University, Dr Guy Gratton, Associate Professor of Aviation and the Environment, teaches and acts as test pilot on the eKub.  Gratton is also an Associate Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. TechXplor reports, “After taxi tests and “low hops,” the single seat Sherwood eKub made its first flight of 10 minutes and then a second flight later in the day of 22 minutes from Little Snoring airfield in Norfolk.” He can’t seem to get enough of the little ultralight single seater, posting a Tweet showing his takeoff in …

Antares, FES, and AdvanTec Create E-ROP Hybrid

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E-ROP is a multi-party program using an Antares self-launching sailplane.  FES and Adventec have crafted a hybrid version of the Antares 20e with a front electric sustainer (FES) motor in place of its tall mast-mounted motor.  An incremental program, E-ROP begins by replacing the retractable unit with an FES motor on the nose.  This reduces the drag created by the motor being raised into position and simplifies operation. The FES Antares flew for the first time on April 19 with Klaus Ohlmann at the helm.  Ulrich Bronet recorded this short video. Under development since 2016, E-ROP will benefit from an advanced battery package from research partner AdvanTec GmbH.  According to the project, “The concept provides for batteries in the fuselage and …

Cementing Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF)

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Cement, a prime component in concrete, is a major source of the greenhouse gas CO2, according to the Princeton Student Climate Initiative (PSCI). The group reports, “Cement is made by firing limestone, clay, and other materials in a kiln. CO2 is emitted from the energy used to fire the material, and the chemical reaction produced from the mixture when it is exposed to heat. According to the National Ready Mixed Concrete Association, each pound of concrete releases 0.93 pounds of carbon dioxide. Since concrete is such a widespread item, the amount of CO2 released in the industry continues to grow.” Cleaning Up the Process How can cement makers reduce their contribution to global warming and make sustainable aviation fuel (SAF)?  …