Wright ASCENDS

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“The ASCEND program sets a benchmark of the fully integrated all-electric powertrain system at a power density of ≥ 12 kW/kg with an efficiency at ≥ 93%. Currently, these targets, among others, are beyond the capability of state-of-the-art technologies and will require creative thinking and innovation in the electric motor and power electronics space.”  As shown below, the large Wright motors will be available in both ducted fan jet and turboprop configurations. Wright Electric, one of eleven organizations signed up for the ASCEND Program, is pushing forward on several projects encompassing the totality of electric propulsion. WM2500 Motor Jeffrey Engler started Wright Electric in 2018, with assistance from Yates Aerospace, a firm headed by record-holder Chip Yates.  According to Wikipedia, “Two test stands were constructed: one with two 250 [kilowatt] (335 horsepower) UQM motors and two Hartzell Propellers,… the other on a 10,000 [pound] (4,500[kilogram]) trailer to be brought to high altitude test sites.”  Yates had used the same UQM …

Hold Your Hydrogen – GTL Does

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GTL. Gloyer-Taylor Laboratories Inc, is a specialist composite manufacturer and it validates LH2 composite dewar tanks for use in aviation.  Recently, they shared that, “In-depth results from the successful validation testing of its small, subscale composite vacuum jacketed dewar tank with liquid hydrogen (LH2).” Think of a dewar as a large thermos bottle and you won’t be far from reality.  “A cryogenic storage dewar (or simply dewar) is a specialized type of vacuum flask used for storing cryogens (such as liquid nitrogen or liquid helium), whose boiling points are much lower than room temperature. It is named after inventor James Dewar, who developed it for his own work. They are commonly used in low-temperature physics and chemistry.” (Wikipedia) The company explained, “Test results exceeded expectations regarding holding hard vacuum, heat load, rapid chill-down and hydrogen fraction goal, leading to flight prototype fabrication. “ The company reports, “When fully isolated, the dewar tank held hard vacuum at 2.8.e-6 torr (5.414e-9 psi) for …

ZeroAvia Turbo Charges a Fuel Cell

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Turbo chargers were an early method of increasing power at altitude and that ZeroAvia is crafting for modern electric, fuel-cell powered aircraft. Mechanical Turbochargers During WWII, your editor’s father was a crew chief and occasional flight engineer on C-47’s, B-17’s, and B-24’s.  The bombers had turbo-charged engines to increase power as noted below. (This is just part one of three training films, all on YouTube, giving some indication of the difficulties pilots faced in pre-electronic times.) The flight manual for the B-17 includes the following notes on the turbochargers. “The B-17F has four 1200 Hp Wright Cyclone Model R-1820-97 engines of the 9-cylinder, radial, air-cooled type with a 16-to-9 gear ratio. “Each engine has a turbo-supercharger to boost manifold pressure for takeoff and maintain sea-level pressure at high altitude.”   B-24’s and other similar craft had the same type of system.   (ZeroAvia’s rough equivalent is much quieter and a loss less smoky.) The manual notes the F models had manual control of …

ZeroAvia Flies Dornier 228 on Left-Wing Hydrogen

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Stephen Bridgewater made a quick announcement on ZeroAvia’s Twitter feed Thursday January 19 about a Dornier 228 that flew with a hydrogen-powered motor on its left wing.  ZeroAvia continues making the largest-yet H2 flights. ZeroAvia’s 19-seat Do228 flew today (from Kemble) at 13.35 UK time. It’s the largest hydrogen-electric powered aircraft yet to fly (hydrogen-electric engine on left wing and Honeywell TPE-331 on the right).  This comes a year after the firm started modifications to the twin-engine Dornier aircraft in both England and California, and a little over two years since it flew a Piper Malibu first on batteries, and then hydrogen.  Despite a crash landing that ended the Cranfield, England-based Malibu, ZeroAvia has stuck to its ambitious schedule.  Another Piper Malibu continued testing at Hollister, California, part of the company’s efforts toward achieving both English and American certification. Performing engine tests early last years and following up with taxi tests at increasing speeds, ZeroAvia made a 10-minute airport circuit …

Delft’s Maeve 01 Dreams Big

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The Maeve 01 is the latest big dream from The Netherlands’ Delft Technical University – which  seems to be a resource-rich aeronautical community producing myriad flying machines.  The airplane comes with a novel recharging system, the Maeve ReCharge network – all to provide “Aviation for a generation that wants to travel, not pollute.” The eight motors spanning its high-aspect ratio wings could be replaced by six, but that depends on replacing the eight 1.2 megawatt (1609 hp.) motors with 1.5 megawatt (2,012 hp.) units.  This seems plausible, since Jeff Engler’s Wright Electric has recently tested a 2 megawatt (2,682 hp.)  motor and ZeroAvia plans on delivering 2 MW units to retrofit DeHavilland Dash 8s within the next few years.  One possible downside would be having less of the 36-meter (118.1 foot) wing swept by the propellers. Maeve founder Jan Willem Heinen explains the eight motors and their possible replacement by six more powerful units.  “The reason why we went for …

Sonex and Gabriel DeVault Partner on Electric Kitplane

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Sonex and Gabriel DeVault have partnered to create an electric kitplane, marketing components for a different type of powerplant.  Sonex has been in the kitplane business since 1998 (having built from a decade’s-old earlier company) and Gabriel DeVault has been working with the electrification of aircraft for a decade.  Combining their expertise, we have a kit built path toward an inexpensive electric kitplane. Gabriel commutes a lot by air, traversing the globe between his home in Watsonville, California and Cranfield, England for work on Zero Avia’s electrification of Dornier 228s – one in each country.  He flies between Watsonville and Hollister, California in his Zero Motorcycle powered eXenos, a kit built product from Sonex Aircraft in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Before that, he flew a Mark Beierle eGull powered with a Zero motor.  Gabriel was instrumental in the design and manufacturing of that motor, making him a bona fide expert on the powerplant. His experience with the eXenos has led Sonex to …

H3X HPDM-3000 – a Three Megawatt-Motor?

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H3X is shaking things up with its announcement of  its HPDM-3000, a three megawatt motor.  Thirteen years ago, your editor gave his first presentation at an electric aircraft symposium, held that year in the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California.  Dr. Brien Seeley, founder and then head of the CAFE (Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency) Foundation, had asked for research on motors of 100 kilowatts or more.  It was hard to find units of over 50 kW at that time, but people like Roman Susnik were managing ultralight motors of over 100 kW for motorized sailplanes With competitors like MagniX and ZeroAvia in the game, H3X introduces the HPDM-3000, a 2.8 mW (3,753 horsepower) ultra-high power density integrated modular motor drive (IMMD).  Developed by a group of young graduates of the University of Wisconsin at Madison, H3X’s motors combine extreme lightness for the power produced with cutting edge manufacturing techniques.  In this video, Chief Technology Officer Max Liben explains the …

Airbus and CFM: Flying on Hydrogen Power by 2035

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Airbus and engine maker CFM International have signed a partnership agreement on a hydrogen demonstration program that could see commercial flights by 2035.  CFM is a 50/50 joint company between GE and Safran Aircraft Engines. The team announced its intentions in an hour-long introduction on February 22, with members from the companies explaining the goals of the project.  A view of what they intend to do with Airbus 380 serial number one gives a view inside the cavernous craft. As pointed out in a Green Car Congress article, the main objective is to develop and flight test a direct combustion engine fueled by liquid hydrogen. The Biggest Test Bed ZeroAvia seeks to get a 20-passenger liner in flight by 2024 and scale up to a 200-seat craft with 3,000 mile range by 2035.  Jeff Engler’s Wright Electric is working on a BAe 146 with short-range aspirations for its 100-passenger, hydrogen fuel cell or aluminum cell-powered airplane by 2026.  (We will …

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 the age of the facility we will be occupying, this grant closed a gap related to facility construction and we are excited to engage in this community.” A hub of the Northwest’s center for aircraft development, Paine Field is also …

MIT Makes Hydrogen from Scrap Aluminum and Water

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Three Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers may be on the track of producing hydrogen from a reaction between aluminum (the scrappier the better) and water.  Their “simple way” of generating H2 from aluminum and water can take place anywhere, according to the researchers. Since groups like ZeroAvia and Pipistrel with the DLR (German Space Agency) and HY4 are working toward at least intermediate-range hydrogen-powered flight, an inexpensive way to produce the gas would be a blessing.  Current methods of producing H2 from fossil-fuel-related materials can be more detrimental to the environment than the promise hydrogen would otherwise bring, however. Corroding but Not Rusting Dr. Laureen Meroueh along with Professor Douglas Hart and Professor Thomas Eager at MIT have found a way to react aluminum with water at normal room temperature, leading to the formation of aluminum oxide while releasing hydrogen gas. Under normal conditions, aluminum exposed to water develops a coating of aluminum oxide.  Stanford researchers in 2000 discovered …