PDA

View Full Version : OT: Superconductor research points towards feasible electric airplanes



drose01
07-16-2007, 07:00 AM
Superconductor research points towards feasible electric airplanes (http://www.gizmag.com/go/7459/)




June 19, 2007

With combustion-driven aircraft currently producing around 5% of greenhouse gas emissions, the time has clearly come to look at alternative power sources across the skyways. Electric motors have come a long way in relation to cars, but American scientists have now unveiled research that would enable high-powered, ultra-reliable electromagnetic engines to be built for airplanes. Using lightweight superconductors and emission-free hydrogen fuel cells to get around the problems experienced by previous attempts, these electric planes would be eco-friendly, exceptionally quiet and highly energy efficient as well as dramatically cutting down on maintenance costs through the elimination of engine hydraulics. This is an exciting convergence of technology with amazing implications throughout the transport sector.

Most current commercial aircraft use turbofans or turboprops to generate forwards thrust. Current systems based on gas turbines have proven very reliable but operate at low efficiency and produce large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions - a single long-haul flight pumps the equivalent of a tonne of carbon dioxide per passenger into the atmosphere. Furthermore, hydraulic actuators are very heavy and maintenance-intensive; they're the cause of around 70% of maintenance faults in airplanes. Thus the existing technology is clearly a compromise.

Earlier attempts at fitting planes with electric engines were thwarted by the size and weight of the magnets required to produce a sufficiently strong magnetic field, but new research published recently in the Institute of Physics Journal, Superconductor Science and Technology, postulates that the use of superconductors with hydrogen-based power plants can produce commercially feasible electric airplane propulsion systems.

Philippe Masson and Cesar Luongo from Florida State University, who have collaborated with Gerald Brown at NASA and Danielle Soban at Georgia Institute of Technology, explain that because superconductors lose no energy through electrical resistance, they could be very efficient components for a new type of aircraft propulsion.

The researchers explain that to build an electric aircraft will require propulsion motors that are high power, lightweight and compact. Current technology cannot meet these demands because an electric motor using conventional magnets can weigh up to five times as much as conventional jet engine and not be as fuel efficient.

In contrast, a superconducting motor would be very lightweight and far more efficient electrically, generating three times the torque of a conventional electric motor for the same energy input and weight. In addition, an electric aircraft would be far quieter than a conventional jet as there are no internal combustion processes involved.

However, superconducting magnets not only have to be cold, but require a unique energy supply. Masson and his colleagues believe they could solve both problems by using liquid hydrogen to run an electric fuel cell. Liquid hydrogen is cold enough to make the superconducting magnets work but also has four times as much energy weight for weight than aviation fuel.

A fuel cell produces no polluting emissions, just warm water as the hydrogen combines with oxygen. This, say the researchers would mean zero carbon emissions from the aircraft as it flies. "The idea is to reduce the emissions from the aircraft and airports," explains team leader Masson, "The energy needed to produce the liquid hydrogen could come from a remote powerplant". Such a powerplant might be solar or wind powered.

"We could potentially build a superconducting motor and generator smaller than a gas turbine, which would make possible electric propulsion," says Masson. Electrical propulsion would not only decrease emissions but also reduce to a minimum the needs for maintenance as all hydraulic systems would be eliminated, he adds. The team has designed such systems with high fidelity models and optimization tools.

Masson adds that the team is now looking for an industrial partner to build a prototype of the superconducting "turbofan". "The technology is there," he says, "it is a matter of finding a source of funding."


Looks like there's hope for the future of flying even after oil becomes more precious than gold...

drose01
07-16-2007, 07:00 AM
Superconductor research points towards feasible electric airplanes (http://www.gizmag.com/go/7459/)

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">

June 19, 2007

With combustion-driven aircraft currently producing around 5% of greenhouse gas emissions, the time has clearly come to look at alternative power sources across the skyways. Electric motors have come a long way in relation to cars, but American scientists have now unveiled research that would enable high-powered, ultra-reliable electromagnetic engines to be built for airplanes. Using lightweight superconductors and emission-free hydrogen fuel cells to get around the problems experienced by previous attempts, these electric planes would be eco-friendly, exceptionally quiet and highly energy efficient as well as dramatically cutting down on maintenance costs through the elimination of engine hydraulics. This is an exciting convergence of technology with amazing implications throughout the transport sector.

Most current commercial aircraft use turbofans or turboprops to generate forwards thrust. Current systems based on gas turbines have proven very reliable but operate at low efficiency and produce large amounts of greenhouse gas emissions - a single long-haul flight pumps the equivalent of a tonne of carbon dioxide per passenger into the atmosphere. Furthermore, hydraulic actuators are very heavy and maintenance-intensive; they're the cause of around 70% of maintenance faults in airplanes. Thus the existing technology is clearly a compromise.

Earlier attempts at fitting planes with electric engines were thwarted by the size and weight of the magnets required to produce a sufficiently strong magnetic field, but new research published recently in the Institute of Physics Journal, Superconductor Science and Technology, postulates that the use of superconductors with hydrogen-based power plants can produce commercially feasible electric airplane propulsion systems.

Philippe Masson and Cesar Luongo from Florida State University, who have collaborated with Gerald Brown at NASA and Danielle Soban at Georgia Institute of Technology, explain that because superconductors lose no energy through electrical resistance, they could be very efficient components for a new type of aircraft propulsion.

The researchers explain that to build an electric aircraft will require propulsion motors that are high power, lightweight and compact. Current technology cannot meet these demands because an electric motor using conventional magnets can weigh up to five times as much as conventional jet engine and not be as fuel efficient.

In contrast, a superconducting motor would be very lightweight and far more efficient electrically, generating three times the torque of a conventional electric motor for the same energy input and weight. In addition, an electric aircraft would be far quieter than a conventional jet as there are no internal combustion processes involved.

However, superconducting magnets not only have to be cold, but require a unique energy supply. Masson and his colleagues believe they could solve both problems by using liquid hydrogen to run an electric fuel cell. Liquid hydrogen is cold enough to make the superconducting magnets work but also has four times as much energy weight for weight than aviation fuel.

A fuel cell produces no polluting emissions, just warm water as the hydrogen combines with oxygen. This, say the researchers would mean zero carbon emissions from the aircraft as it flies. "The idea is to reduce the emissions from the aircraft and airports," explains team leader Masson, "The energy needed to produce the liquid hydrogen could come from a remote powerplant". Such a powerplant might be solar or wind powered.

"We could potentially build a superconducting motor and generator smaller than a gas turbine, which would make possible electric propulsion," says Masson. Electrical propulsion would not only decrease emissions but also reduce to a minimum the needs for maintenance as all hydraulic systems would be eliminated, he adds. The team has designed such systems with high fidelity models and optimization tools.

Masson adds that the team is now looking for an industrial partner to build a prototype of the superconducting "turbofan". "The technology is there," he says, "it is a matter of finding a source of funding." </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


Looks like there's hope for the future of flying even after oil becomes more precious than gold...

Blutarski2004
07-16-2007, 07:15 AM
I predict that the environmental lobby careerists will then complain about dangerously rising sea levels and temperatures caused by the warm water emissions of all those super-conductor turbo-fans.

EDCF_Rama
07-16-2007, 07:43 AM
http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif
Especcialy since "warm water" is in fact water vapor..... who is a greenhouse gaz.... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/inlove.gif

Viper2005_
07-16-2007, 07:47 AM
This doesn't address the fact that the installed energy density of fuel cells is significantly lower than the energy density of Jet-A. It isn't fair to use LH2 in a comparison with Jet-A since LH2 isn't likely to be used. If it were, apart from the handling implications of cryogenic fuels, its low density would tend to produce very large, draggy fuel tanks.

The high performance electric motors imply rather extreme magnetic fields. Apart from the engineering implications, I'm not sure what the health effects of being close to those fields would be.

Most of the noise associated with aircraft propulsion is fan noise and jet noise. Combustion noise is usually relatively insignificant.

Electric motors might be used to drive the wheels for taxiing, and perhaps even to spin them up before landing to reduce tyre wear. But I can't see them being used as the primary source of propulsion for an airliner at Mach 0.80 or so any time soon.

Akronnick
07-16-2007, 10:34 AM
Sounds to good to be true...

Zoom2136
07-16-2007, 12:54 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Viper2005_:
This doesn't address the fact that the installed energy density of fuel cells is significantly lower than the energy density of Jet-A. It isn't fair to use LH2 in a comparison with Jet-A since LH2 isn't likely to be used. If it were, apart from the handling implications of cryogenic fuels, its low density would tend to produce very large, draggy fuel tanks.

The high performance electric motors imply rather extreme magnetic fields. Apart from the engineering implications, I'm not sure what the health effects of being close to those fields would be.

Most of the noise associated with aircraft propulsion is fan noise and jet noise. Combustion noise is usually relatively insignificant.

Electric motors might be used to drive the wheels for taxiing, and perhaps even to spin them up before landing to reduce tyre wear. But I can't see them being used as the primary source of propulsion for an airliner at Mach 0.80 or so any time soon. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I like this kind of counter productive thinking... reminds me of U.S. auto maker in the 80's, 90's... well even today... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/10.gif

You know without forward thinking... they can be no progress...

It is Einstein that said this society put to much emphasis in those that posses superior analytical thinking skills... and not enough on those that possesses superior imagination.... According to him it is the later that drive innovations....

Just a little anecdote (this was on the 70's BTW)... they asked a team of mechanical engineering student to design a fuel efficient vehicle that could accelerate to 100 kph in 12 or so second and could sustain its speed... so these student went to work and designed a conventional engine car that respected these spec... all the tricks of the trade were use to make the engine fuel efficient and no details were left out.... the right power to weight ratio was used.... bla bla bla...

They asked the same of a team of hydraulics (???) engineering students , these guys design an hydraulic accumulator system that propelled the vehicle from 0 to 100 kph under 12 sec and used a very small gas powered engine to maintain said speed... thus yielding a better fuel efficiency that the mechanical engineering student solution....

So when a see someone with such a narrow vision... I can only say... break free from your paradigms...

Kettenhunde
07-16-2007, 01:44 PM
Electric airplanes sounds very nice and very expensive.

Personally I can't wait to see this at the FBO's pumps:

http://www.age85.org/Research.htm

They estimate it will double the TBO of todays engines for better power than 100LL.

Much better emissions too, for the tree huggers of course.

All the best,

Crumpp

The-Pizza-Man
07-16-2007, 05:35 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Zoom2136:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Viper2005_:
This doesn't address the fact that the installed energy density of fuel cells is significantly lower than the energy density of Jet-A. It isn't fair to use LH2 in a comparison with Jet-A since LH2 isn't likely to be used. If it were, apart from the handling implications of cryogenic fuels, its low density would tend to produce very large, draggy fuel tanks.

The high performance electric motors imply rather extreme magnetic fields. Apart from the engineering implications, I'm not sure what the health effects of being close to those fields would be.

Most of the noise associated with aircraft propulsion is fan noise and jet noise. Combustion noise is usually relatively insignificant.

Electric motors might be used to drive the wheels for taxiing, and perhaps even to spin them up before landing to reduce tyre wear. But I can't see them being used as the primary source of propulsion for an airliner at Mach 0.80 or so any time soon. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I like this kind of counter productive thinking... reminds me of U.S. auto maker in the 80's, 90's... well even today... http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/10.gif

You know without forward thinking... they can be no progress...

It is Einstein that said this society put to much emphasis in those that posses superior analytical thinking skills... and not enough on those that possesses superior imagination.... According to him it is the later that drive innovations....

Just a little anecdote (this was on the 70's BTW)... they asked a team of mechanical engineering student to design a fuel efficient vehicle that could accelerate to 100 kph in 12 or so second and could sustain its speed... so these student went to work and designed a conventional engine car that respected these spec... all the tricks of the trade were use to make the engine fuel efficient and no details were left out.... the right power to weight ratio was used.... bla bla bla...

They asked the same of a team of hydraulics (???) engineering students , these guys design an hydraulic accumulator system that propelled the vehicle from 0 to 100 kph under 12 sec and used a very small gas powered engine to maintain said speed... thus yielding a better fuel efficiency that the mechanical engineering student solution....

So when a see someone with such a narrow vision... I can only say... break free from your paradigms... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

As someone who is designing and building a hydrogen powered aerospace engine I can tell you that hydrogen is not practical for most applications. In a fuel tank that has a volume of a few hundred millilitres and pressurised to 10 MPa, we are only carrying a little over 1 gram of hydrogen. The only reason we are using hydrogen is for it's low detonation initiation energy. If it weren't for that we'd be using a liquid hydrocarbon of some variety.

Viper2005_
07-16-2007, 06:05 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Zoom2136:
So when a see someone with such a narrow vision... I can only say... break free from your paradigms... </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

If you only knew...