Wright Electric, ARPA-E, and Life’s Report Card

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

If, as the infamous cartoon in the New Yorker proclaimed, “Money is life’s report card,” Jeff Engler’s Wright Electric got a least a B+ for its current semester.  While not as flush with cash as firms like Joby Aviation, eHang, or Volocopter, Wright received significant recognition for its initiative in designing high-efficiency electric motors with a high-frequency inverter and “an aggressive cooling strategy.”  The $647,039 ARPA-E grant will further Wright’s work on the ARPA-E ASCEND Project. ASCEND stands for Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives, a sure-fire Scrabble winner and pretty tortuous acronym. Phase one of the project takes the team through the detailed design and subcomponent testing for the system.  Phase two will see Wright build and demonstrate …

DOE Promotes Carbon Neutrality Aeronautically

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Both GreenCarCongress.com and CleanTechnica share information about the Department of Energy’s funding of 17 projects in two Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) categories.  Prepare for the inevitable rush of acronyms.  All the projects seem to be reserved for applications on single-aisle short- and intermediate-range airliners, with emphasis on economy of operation, carbon neutrality and lowest possible emissions. ASCEND Powertrain related, ASCEND (Aviation-class Synergistically Cooled Electric-motors with iNtegrated Drives) will fund nine projects with $14.5 in Phase 1 money.  Funds will help recipients, “Work to develop innovative, lightweight, and ultra-efficient all-electric powertrain with advanced thermal management systems that help enable efficient net-zero carbon emissions for single-aisle passenger commercial aircraft.” Raytheon Technologies Research Center has three projects in two ARPA-E categories, …

Wright Electric Reveals Big Plans

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While most anticipated new electric aircraft don’t seem to exceed 50 seats, Wright Electric has begun a more ambitious program for its 186-seat electric airliner, Wright 1.  In a January 30 press meeting at the Refinery Hotel in lower Manhattan, Wright announced plans to move forward with their design and testing program for a substantial electric airliner. Wright CEO Jeffrey Engler promised: “Wright Electric is dedicated to bringing low-emissions 186-seat electric planes systems to market. Wright Electric’s mission is to make commercial aviation greener, and our megawatt engine program is the next step in making our mission a reality.” Wright’s plans include moving its headquarters to Albany, New York, “to take advantage of the extraordinary local engineering talent.”  Wright will …

Norway and the Netherlands Electrifying Aviation

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Two European states that will benefit from the electrification of short-range airline flights are becoming strong proponents of new technology.  Norwegian Would The Guardian headlined its article on greener airlines this way: “Norway aims for all short-haul flights to be 100% electric by 2040.”   A subheadline explained, “It already has more electric cars than any other country in the world and also has shipping projects underway.”  That’s in terms of market share, with electric and hybrid vehicles representing more than half of new car registrations in 2017.  Avinor, the public operation of Norway’s airports, says short-haul airliners should be entirely electric by 2040, cementing the Nordic nation’s role as a pioneer in the field of electric transport.  Chief executive Dag …

The C4V Battery – Solid-State in Production?

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Jeffrey Engler of Wright Electric posted an item about Charge CCCV, LLC (C4V) which “demonstrated a prototype of its new Solid State Battery (SSB) at the NY BEST 2018 Fall Conference in New York.  The Company’s SSB solution delivers higher performance, higher density, lower cost batteries that promise to require significantly less charging time than others.”  The startup announced a 380 Watt-hour-per-kilogram battery already in production.  Since your editor tends to become a bit snarky about the usual two-to-five-year period of anticipation before these numbers become reality, he rushed to check out the claims. Plausible Numbers, but Uncertain Time Frame The firm’s numbers are not wildly excessive, and they seem to be getting funding and finding partnerships with established companies.  …

Forget the Airborne Pizza!  Chip Yates Sends 700 Pounds!

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Recent news shows aerial drone delivery of small packages from an Amazon Warehouse or pizza from the nearest Dominos, but such packages are lightweight trifles compared to the 700 pounds Chip Yates promises to drop from the sky. Such loads are necessary in conflict and disaster areas, where material heavy enough to hold off an enemy or feed hordes of refugees is essential.  Fifty-kilogram sacks of rice or electric generators are necessary for survival, and a heavy-duty delivery system will almost always come in handy. Chip, head of Yates Electrospace, has gone over 200 mph on an electric motorcycle, taken the UQM motor from that machine, and powered his Long-ESA aircraft to also top 200 mph.  As Aviation Week and …

Rolls-Royce, Airbus and Siemens Team Up on Hybrid Airliner

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As many of your editor’s friends know, he is often lured to trolling the tabloids, looking for juicy bits about the royal family or Hollywood royalty.  Recently, while perusing the Daily Mail* for news of the upcoming Harry/Meaghan nuptials, he came across the big-headline news that three European power players – Rolls-Royce, Airbus, and Siemens, are collaborating on creating a testbed for a hybrid power system. The trio will take a Bae 146 four-engine regional jet, convert it to a hybrid demonstrator by 2020, and have a production plane in place by 2030.  The high-wing airplane has four turbofans in place now, but the partners will replace one with a Siemens two-megawatt electric motor powered by a Rolls-Royce two-megawatt generator …

Airbus E-Fans 2.0 and 4.0 Dropped in Favor of E-Fan X

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Much like waiting for the single-person ram-jet helicopter to show up in your garage, you’ll be left hanging for a two- or four-seat Airbus e-Fan to grace your hangar.  Although not sharing the news in its “Innovation” or press release sections on its web site, Airbus has announced that it’s dropping plans to produce an E-Fan family of personal aircraft.  It will move instead into developing a larger, more powerful aircraft, the E-Fan X, that could fly within three years. Airbus started with a four-motor rendition of the Cri-Cri, four MGM Compro units twirling contra-rotating propellers and producing 60 horsepower.  Their “Innovation” program followed that with the tw0-seat E-Fan, and announced plans to build these in series at their cleverly named …

Paris to London Using No Fossil Fuels

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Jeff Engler fired up a start-up, Wright Electric, about a year ago.  Last week, he presented at the Y Combinator Winter 2017 Demo Day – a semi-annual event where venture capitalists can meet the latest in venturesome mendicants.  Tech Crunch describes the firm’s goals, which include electric flights between London and Paris on no fossil fuels – ambitious to say the least. “Wright Electric wants to build the world’s first electric airplane (at least the first 150 seat electric airliner). One of the main reasons airlines like Southwest can offer low fares is that they pre-purchase gas, but Wright sees an opportunity to make flights even cheaper by using electric planes instead. The company is targeting the 30 percent of …