Lithium Sulfur Batteries And The Future Of Electric Aviation

David Pflieger highlights the future of electric aviation: lithium sulfur batteries.

In a world that is increasingly focused on man’s impact on the environment, renewable electric energy has taken the world of transportation by storm. Electric cars, electric boats, electric trains, and even electric airplanes are all being used and further developed by companies attempting to cash in on this brave new world. The industry is not without its downsides however.

Airplanes in particular have proven to be difficult to convert to electric power. This is due to the high amounts of energy needed to get an airplane into the air combined with the necessity of a relatively light rig. After all, it is hard to become airborne when something is too heavy.

This is what has made electric power a long shot for aviation. Most electric powered vehicles use lithium-ion batteries to store electric energy. This is what Tesla uses in their cars and trucks. Great advances have been made in lithium-ion energy in the past decade alone. It is still not enough.

One British company is doing its best to provide something revolutionary by looking to the past. Oxis Energy is bring back lithium-sulfur batteries, which have been around since the 1960s, in an attempt to offer a better alternative to what is currently available. The difference between lithium-ion batteries and their sulfur cousins is the amount of energy that can be stored in them.

Simply put, the energy density of lithium-sulfur batteries has already doubled that of their ion counterparts. What made this technology undesirable in the past is the short lifespan. This is still an issue, but Oxis Energy is confident that with further development it is possible to manufacture lithium-sulfur batteries that are both energy dense and capable of lasting a long time.

In order to read the full article, written by David Pflieger, make sure to click the link.

Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider: A Profile

David Pflieger highlights the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider.

Since World War II the United States has maintained air superiority around the globe. The USA has long been the vanguard of military technology. The future of the Air Force’s stealth abilities is embodied in the futuristic B-21, a stealth long-ranger bomber. The B-21 has a longer range, newly developed stealth abilities, and greater endurance than previous similar bombers. The endurance and range of the B-21 allow the bomber to avoid surface to air defense systems and could also facilitate a quick strike anywhere in the world. The bomber’s formal name, “Raider”, was coined collectively by a competition amongst members of the Air Force are their close associates.

After the Air Force revealed the artist rendering of the B-21 bomber the Secretary of the Air Force Deborah James mentioned the intention to develop a new long-range, stealth bomber with capabilities to avoid detection. Despite the Air Force’s claims that the new bomber will be near impossible to detect, Russian media reports the United State’s stealth technology is useless when paired against their ground to air defenses. The S-300 and S-400 Russian ground defenses have an excellent reputation around the world. However, the Air Force Secretary insists the B-21 will prove to be superior to Russian defense systems.

The details of the B-21 are not available but nonetheless some details are apparent from the artist rendering of the bomber. The absence of exhaust pipes suggests the Air Force was able to circumvent the release of fumes that can be detected by heat-seeking weapons. Defense firm Northrop Grumman won a contract from the Air Force to engineer the B-21. The long term intention of the B-21 is to replace the late Cold War-era bomber the B-2. The Air Force seeks to begin using the B-21 by the mid-2020s and intends to purchase 20 to 50 B-21s at approximately $550 million. The technology developed for the B-21 is capable of being updated as defense systems around the world upgrade as well. Other details of the B-21 may include the capacity to fly unmanned and to potentially deliver nuclear weapons.

In order to read the full article, written by David Pflieger, make sure to click the link.

Do Electric Airplanes Reduce Emissions?

David Pflieger explains whether or not airplanes actually reduce emissions.

Electric power is the future. It is designed to overtake traditional dirty fossil fuels in a big way over the next decade or so. From the sleek electric cars of Tesla to he solar roofs that are popping up on houses all over the sunnier parts of the world, the electric industry has never been bigger. But what about airplanes?

In the modern age, flight is simply a fact of life. Everybody needs to get around somehow and if the destination is far and time is of the essence then there really are not any better alternatives. Nothing can compete with the efficiency of an airplane. It is therefore too bad that airplanes are themselves not very efficient when it comes to fuel consumption and CO2 emissions.

Despite all of the optimism coming out of the current electric industry, the truth is that jet-fueled airplanes are not going to be replaced any time soon. In order for a viable alternative to take over, the new source of energy would have to be comparable in efficiency to jet fuel. The reality is that nothing can compare to jet fuel except rocket fuel, which is even worse for the environment.

Current electric vehicles make use of lithium-ion batteries. This is what powers everything from the cars of Tesla to the electric subways that make their way through the English countryside. Lithium-ion power has seen several advances within the last few years and has proven to be a viable competitor to gasoline. Even so, it is not without its downsides.

In order to read the full article, written by David Pflieger, make sure to click the link.

This Retired 747 is Testing the Engines of the Future

David Pflieger highlights the 747’s testing of a brand-new engine.

Airplanes have a limited life expectancy. They last for years, but every plane will eventually wear out and retire from active service with an airline. Some of them end up as scrap while others find their way into new roles. Rolls-Royce has acquired one of those retired planes for research purposes. They plan to use it to help test new engines that may see use on the planes of the future.

The Plane

The test plane began life as a Boeing 747, one of the most common jets among modern airlines. It flew for one of the world’s oldest and largest airlines, Qantas Airways Limited, for two decades before transitioning to its new role. It will need roughly two years and millions of dollars before it is ready to take to the skies again.

That investment of time and money will equip the plane with both a new engine and all of the special instruments that it will need to track the engine’s performance while it is still in the air. The modifications will ensure that the jet is as much a research station as an aircraft. It is certainly a large project, but it is likely to go smoothly. Rolls-Royce has plenty of experience because the company has already converted another Boeing 747 for research purposes.

The Project

Rolls-Royce plans to use their plane to test one of their latest designs, the UltraFan engine. The company hopes that the new engine will offer more fuel efficiency than modern engines, improved safety, and a higher level of general performance. The improvements will benefit both the environment and the passengers on future planes. That type of improvement may seem like a tall order, but Rolls-Royce is confident that it can get the job done. They have a large team working on the project and plenty of technical experience. The company hopes to start deploying the new engines within a decade.

The Future

It will take years of tweaking and testing to prepare the new technology for deployment. After all, jet engines are highly complicated devices and Rolls-Royce needs to be sure that they are safe before deploying them. Their newest test plane will definitely have a lot of work to do in the coming years.