Better Batteries: 3x Life, 30-Percent Cost

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 5 Comments

The CAFE blog’s recent news about graphene electrode developments by Argonne National Laboratory in applications by Envia, a startup battery company in Newark, California, led to an almost immediate follow-up by another startup, California Lithium Battery (CalBattery), but with a different form factor in mind. The company’s purpose can be divined from their mission statement.  “Our mission is to become the leading United States-based developer and manufacturer of advanced, safe, high-performance Very large Format (VLF) lithium batteries for utility energy storage, EVs, and specialized industrial and military applications.”  These batteries would be used in transportation and stationary power markets in North America, Europe and Asia. Asked to define VLF batteries, founder and CEO Phil Roberts said that their transportation batteries would come in 40 Amp-hour prismatic packaging, and those for the stationary power market would range up to 400 Amp-hours.  This large format approach allows more active materials to be packed into a single package, increasing the total energy density …

Lindbergh Foundation, LEAP Host Electric Aircraft Meetings During Sun ‘n Fun

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

The Lindbergh Foundation and the Lindbergh Electric Aircraft Prize combine forces to present electric aviation events during the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In in late March, according to information from Erik Lindbergh and Yolanka Wulff. First, the International Workshop for Electric Aircraft Standardization will take place during the Sun ‘n Fun Fly-In at Lakeland Florida on Wednesday, March 28.  The workshop will be held at the Hilton Garden Inn and “brings together civil aviation authorities, researchers, and manufacturers/designers for discussions on standardizing technologies of this emerging aircraft category. The workshop concludes with our second official Electric Aircraft Development Alliance (EADA) meeting.” The Lindbergh organizations hope that EADA will partner with ASTM (formerly the American Standards for Testing and Materials) and an alliance of aircraft builders to develop standards and confront regulatory issues, advocate for electric aircraft industry goals, promote and network for future flight, and educate the public on these exciting new technologies and their promise. On Thursday March 29, a series …

Alpaero’s Exel Goes Electric

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 2 Comments

Alpaero, a small firm in the southern French alps (hence its name?) created an ultralight sailplane/motorglider about 10 years ago that was originally powered by a two-stroke engine.  Recently, though, it’s gone green with a four-stroke, Briggs & Stratton engine and even greener with an electric motor version. Claude Noin, the designer, wanted to answer the request for a “light autonomous sailplane at a reasonable cost,” able to meet ULM (ultralight) qualifications.  The fixed engine behind the cockpit configuration avoids the complexity of the retractable engine configuration, which Alpaero says can increase drag two or even three times over that of the “clean” sailplane when the engine or motor is extended.  As Dick Van Grunsven has pointed out, the need for motor extension usually occurs at some low point in the flight, when other options have been exhausted.   Even the clean design of his Antares motor system produces a noticeable drop in gliding performance, he notes. The large cockpit has …

Richard VanGrunsven on Electric Airplanes

Dean Sigler Uncategorized Leave a Comment

Despite having produced kits which have led to 6,410 RV aircraft in the air at last count – all carbon-consuming and emitting lightplanes – Richard VanGrunsven owns an electric airplane, an Antares 20E self-launching sailplane. He attended AirVenture 2009, and reports on his findings regarding the current crop of electric airplanes in his article “The Year of the Electric Airplane.” His opinions are worth noting, simply because of the worldwide acceptance of his designs.  He obviously loves his Antares, noting its single-lever motor operation as “almost sinfully simple” compared to the more complex extension/motor start/operation/shutdown/retraction sequences on other motorgliders.   He shows some disappointment in the low performance speeds of present electrically-powered craft, but notes that if the claims of some motor packages were fulfilled, “I’d run right out and get a ‘plug-and-play’ motor system and design an airplane around it.”  Now, that’s an incentive for developers!