- Dec 16, 2007
- Port Townsend WA
Yes, but would you be trying to fly in cold weather? Probably not, since there are very few thermals in the winter anyway.I think electric could beat gas today on a self launch sailplane/non-cruising motor glider. ...
Exactly my thoughts! An in order to equal gasoline, they will have to able to operate in the same, or most of, the environment that gasoline will.Electric vehicles are waiting on batteries. They are improving. They may take a century or never equal the energy density of gasoline.
They will, for the foreseeable future, cost more even in self launch glider applications. Which are now just expensive, not impossible. That's progress.
The problem with fuel cells (and, by the way, the reason I don't think they'll catch on with cars, either) is that they throw away almost all the advantages of electric systems, while retaining some of the "issues" of electrics: Parts count is easily equal to an IC engine, still full of control and maintenance electronics, they require fuel handling and storage like an IC. Add that they're extraordinarily sensitive to fuel contamination, to a degree IC's aren't. Plus, as you note, unless they somehow get into mass production, they're ungodly expensive beasts. If you're going to accept fuel pumping and storage tanks, why not just stay with IC? It's proven, cheap, well-known, and there's still some room for improvement in IC designs.On paper, for the particular requirements of airplane propulsion, a fuel cell that provides electric power to electric motors is (IMO) much more attractive than any present battery options. It could have better reliability than IC engines, much better specific energy than batteries, much faster "recharge" time than batteries (just pour in more fuel and go). But, because batteries are "good enough" for cars (whether "full electric" or plug-in hybrids), and cars will be the mass-production application that drives down costs, I don't think we'll get economical fuel cells for airplanes.
That's about as likely to happen in the next 30-50 years as the US landing people back on the Moon or on Mars. It'll always be "20-30 years from now."When we outlaw the IC engine, what are you going to do about all the people still living without electric in Appalachia, in the hollows and out the ridges miles from the grid...
I think the answer is generally "yes". In my neighborhood I get a seasonal temperature swing of over 100 degrees. I have launched out on cross country missions with ramp temps over 120 and less than 10. When trying to do a 1000 mile day you cant afford a lot of stops to refuel/recharge. You want to get high and fast and stay there as long as possible.And the ancillary question, to the point that John.Roo and myself have both made: Does there need to be?
Have I gotten your graph correct? To me it says that an ICE will increase only a small amount from initial weight as the time gets longer, while an electric one jumps radically.No problem with electric vehicles
Fore reference, I'm reproducing the graph here: