Buckeyes, Venturi VBB-3 Set Records on the Salt Flats

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

Take a venturesome electric car developer like Venturi, a Monaco-based firm, and put them together with an enthusiastic group of Ohio State University engineering students.  Exciting things happen. The Buckeyes have tried their hands at racing in many venues.  Their first outing in the 2013 Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Zero gained them a third place finish – followed by another third place outing in 2014, and their tour of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb this year took a mere 11 minutes and 16 seconds, good enough for third place.  They also race in the Formula SAE competition, putting their open-wheel, high-performance cars up against those from 110 other colleges and universities. Turning their eyes from the curves of the Isle of Man and Pikes Peak, to possibly the flattest place in America, the Buckeyes came in first this time, setting a world record 341 mph with their Venturi VBB-3, all 3,000 horsepower engaged. In fact, the team set …

The motor inside every Formula E Racer Today

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

In this YouTube video, Robert Llewellyn visits the McLaren Technology Centre to talk to Peter van Manen about the motor that McLaren developed in the last four years and that is now in every Formula E racer.  (Next year, other motors and car designs will enter the fray, but the current effort is exciting enough for now.) One thing stands out: 26 kilograms (57.2 pounds) for 225 horsepower.  That’s almost four horsepower per pound.  Compare that to the average of about two pounds per horsepower on a modern aircraft engine and marvel at the 8:1 power density ratio between McLaren’s motor and what we fly behind today. Old-school aircraft design wisdom said that for every pound of engine weight one could lose, one could reduce airframe weight by two pounds.  Even granted the additional weight required for propeller speed reduction, what does this portend for a truly radical future for light aircraft design?