Why battery-powered aircraft will never have significant range

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Dan Thomas

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This is not marketing - it's my own opinion based on my own experience of driving the 8.5 years old tesla model S I own. It has about 7% battery degradation accumulated over the years, so I expect it will still work 5 years from now. Why do you think I'm lying? I'm just presenting facts from my own experience. I tend to take offence over this kind of comments, but for now I'm considering this just a misunderstanding.
How many miles does your Tesla have on it?
 

Aesquire

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This is not marketing - it's my own opinion based on my own experience of driving the 8.5 years old tesla model S I own. It has about 7% battery degradation accumulated over the years, so I expect it will still work 5 years from now. Why do you think I'm lying?
Oh, not calling you a liar, objecting to marketing buzzwords with little real meaning.
A car in Rochester NY, if driven year round, and not washed religiously, will dissolve into a pile of rust in just a few years. When I traded in my 1990s Caravan for a Fuel Saving car in a Government sponsored program, ( thanks Redacted, and all you tax payers ) the engine was in perfect condition. I always used synthetic oil , and usually do preventative maintenance. I also hate doing body work, so the car arrived at the dealer so they could destroy the great running engine to prevent resale with the driver's seat sinking through the rust in the floor.

OTOH in California and other states where the roads aren't covered in salt water slush for months at a time, a 1960's car is still Useful. Prized even. In South Dakota, where winter temps are commonly lower than salt works to melt it, and they sand the roads, there are lots of old useful cars. In my area at the same latitude, not so much.

[/QUOTE]
There is very little lead into the current lithium batteries, but there is definitely more in the 'low lead' 100LL avgas and by burning it - all that nasty lead goes up into the air to be inhaled eventually. There is a reason the TEL was banned from the automotive industry years ago.
[/QUOTE]

I was referring to Lead Acid batteries, as used in most starting applications for cars, trucks, tractors, etc.

I agree on 100LL. I hope there's an available replacement so the fairly small fleet that needs it ( as opposed to running ok on premium auto-gas ) can soldier on another century. I'd love to see a study of lead residue from pre-TEL days. I sometimes wonder if that's why it seem so many people are idiots. ;)

 

BBerson

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Lead acid batteries are recyclable. They charge a core fee if you don't bring in the old lead acid battery. Lithium apparently not.
 
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dog

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What homebuilt airplane are you guys discussing?


BJC
Every once and a while these red button alternative aircraft power threads do lurch back on track and provide some very interesting insights and observations with links to peoples
actual results.
Though in every case it is someone opposed to any alternative power source introducing irellivant to aircraft objections and agendas,without I might add ever bieng held accountable for stiring the pot.
And yes ,guilty as charged,I did and do not have to respond to climate denials wrapped up as
technical objections.
But as you know,someone,somewhere,on the internet,said,something WRONG,and I must set them strait.
HBA is a great place and I keep thinking about
how something could be done to 1 make it more inclusive and 2 a place to discuss complicated and technical enginering and design topics without those threads getting
interupted and sidetracked.
3 reducing the workload of the mods.
 

Dusan

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What homebuilt airplane are you guys discussing?
Sorry about the automotive subject, but I think it is relevant.

Tesla is demonstrating plentifully that a battery car is a viable option. I drive one for my daily commute, I like the acceleration and that I don't need to visit the gas station at -20C here in Canada, I just plug it in every evening and in the morning is charged, heated and ready to go. I'm not a tree-huger, my daily driver used to bee a jeep diesel, I still own it as it's useful to tow stuff around. Tesla I bought was an opportunity, I got it cheap from a friend, I drove it from California to Ontario without any issues.

Implementing battery propulsion is much harder for aircraft due to the low specific energy of current batteries, but Pipistrel is demonstrating that it is a viable market, at least for niche customers. Plenty guys are also implementing electric propulsion for self-launching gliders and other experimental aircraft. Sure, flying an electric is different, similar as driving an electric car. Driving an electric - from my own experience - I'm more conscious about how much energy is still there, and long trips need a bit more planning as there are less charge stations than gas ones. Flying an electric - it does not make too much sense to cruise at 70% 'WOT', the electric propulsion is highly efficient at any power setting so it makes more sense to fly where the aerodynamics of that particular aircraft is more efficient. Flying just for fun - who cares?

Electric propulsion is a very interesting proposition for aircraft - as it can add new functionality that is much harder or impossible to implement otherwise - especially on small aircraft, such as distributed propulsion and VTOL. A small, personal VTOL aircraft is very attractive for fun flying, and could be a very viable option for daily commute for a lot of people, having the capability to take-off and land virtually anywhere, even if the flight time is limited to under 30 minutes. This is possible with the battery technology today, and it will only improve in the future.
 

TLAR

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And yet another issue to be dealt with if battery driven dreams come to fruition [emphasis mine]:


"The battery pack of a Tesla Model S is a feat of intricate engineering. .......But when the battery comes to the end of its life, its green benefits fade. If it ends up in a landfill, its cells can release problematic toxins, including heavy metals. And recycling the battery can be a hazardous business, warns materials scientist Dana Thompson of the University of Leicester. Cut too deep into a Tesla cell, or in the wrong place, and it can short-circuit, combust, and release toxic fumes.

That’s just one of the many problems confronting researchers, including Thompson, who are trying to tackle an emerging problem: how to recycle the millions of electric vehicle (EV) batteries that manufacturers expect to produce over the next few decades. Current EV batteries “are really not designed to be recycled,” says Thompson, a research fellow at the Faraday Institution, a research center focused on battery issues in the United Kingdom.

That wasn’t much of a problem when EVs were rare. But now the technology is taking off. Several carmakers have said they plan to phase out combustion engines within a few decades, and industry analysts predict at least 145 million EVs will be on the road by 2030, up from just 11 million last year. “People are starting to realize this is an issue,” Thompson says."

And the disaster is just starting
 

TLAR

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Every once and a while these red button alternative aircraft power threads do lurch back on track and provide some very interesting insights and observations with links to peoples
actual results.
Though in every case it is someone opposed to any alternative power source introducing irellivant to aircraft objections and agendas,without I might add ever bieng held accountable for stiring the pot.
And yes ,guilty as charged,I did and do not have to respond to climate denials wrapped up as
technical objections.
But as you know,someone,somewhere,on the internet,said,something WRONG,and I must set them strait.
HBA is a great place and I keep thinking about
how something could be done to 1 make it more inclusive and 2 a place to discuss complicated and technical enginering and design topics without those threads getting
interupted and sidetracked.
3 reducing the workload of the mods.
bring in the thought police
 

Victor Bravo

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And yes ,guilty as charged,I did and do not have to respond to climate denials wrapped up as technical objections.

I keep thinking about how something could be done to 1 make it more inclusive
First, I took the liberty of fixing the carriage return on your typewriter. It seems to have quite a mind of its own.

Second, I'd like to respectfully disagree with your separating "climate denials" and "technical objections" into two subjects that people are wrapping together wrongfully. Some of the people who call the climate stuff into question are doing so because their "technical objections" have some amount of merit. One such person - who is very relevant to this discussion forum - is Burt Rutan.

With all sincere respect, I challenge you to watch the series of youtube videos that he made on this subject. The reason for this challenge is that Burt is the opposite of a "tinfoil hat" conspiracy theorist... he is a very well educated engineer/scientist who is famous for using real-world data and science to make very significant achievements.

Burt is also an accomplished aviator, and is of course famous within aviation for designing scratchbuilt, homebuilt, kit-built, production prototype, and even certified airplanes. Burt was also involved in the use of "alternate power" for small aircraft... he was an early pioneer in the use of industrial V-twin engines (Onan 18HP in the Quickie), and partnered with Toyota to develop a prototype for a production aircraft using one of Toyota's highly fuel-efficient automotive engines. I can't guarantee it but I have no doubt that Burt also had done calculations and exploratory work on electric power as part of the many DARPA and other classified programs that his company did (Black Planes Matter!)

The point of this rant is that when I watched the videos that a rational, trained, number-crunching aerospace engineer made on this subject, it was very clear that he approached this as a scientist, and all of his findings / opinions / assumptions were based on real verifiable climate data. Not left, right, or even center politics. This led me to believe that there is indeed another side of the story instead of just the one side of the story being pushed down everyone's throat.

And Burt's findings...? Yes the climate on Earth does change. Warmer and cooler, warmer and cooler, over millions of years. Human industry probably has had a small effect on this, but we aren't responsible for major trends that were in place long before we screamed and threw the bone up above the monolith.

And yet fifty thousand years ago, the cave men on the far left side of the cave were trying to put huge taxes on Bison fur coats, because they blamed the cave men on the far right side of the cave for Global Cooling.
 
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dog

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None on the distractions bieng thrown out,politicised,and touted for this and that
change the base physical reality of newer vs
older tech.
Internal combustion has not had any real improvement for aviation in a long time,the efficiency of an aircraft engine at cruise power
varies by a tiny bit.
In order for a real change a new material that is
strong and tough at refractory temperatures is needed.
Yes? No ? and back it up
New tech does not have the same mechanical
limitation and shows every sign of achiving the power levels needed for our small aircraft soon.
Hydrogen powered electric planes have the potential for unrefueled ranges much greater than current aircraft(think flying 550miles somewhere there is no fuel and getting back)
I have learned a lot about newer tech in this discussion,but have heard not one word about
how ICE is going to improve.
The worlds human population has an insatiable demand for energy and the likelyhood of emmissions doubling and then doubling again is very very high.
Go one now bluff out how its no big deal if the
CO 2 hits parts per 100k.
No planet B.
Environment aside isnt it a good thing to want
aircraft with less moving parts,better range and
performance than now possible at any price?
You guys are bored with no raptor channel to
watch.
I should be charging admission.
 

Rhino

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...Environment aside...
Yes, please.

...isnt it a good thing to want
aircraft with less moving parts,better range and
performance than now possible at any price?...
Yes, but that doesn't exist yet with 'alternate propulsion' aircraft. Hopefully someday. Only time will tell.

Never heard of a raptor channel. I assume it isn't referring to birds.
 

Victor Bravo

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can change the base physical reality of newer vs
older tech.

Internal combustion has not had any real improvement for aviation in a long time,


I have learned a lot about newer tech in this discussion,but have heard not one word about
how ICE is going to improve.
None of the talk a bout "new technology" can change the base physical reality that even the newest battery can't put out as much energy per pound as the oldest dinosaur.

Average (internal combustion engine) cars have just about doubled the power per cubic inch, and doubled the gas mileage, in the last 50 years. 15 gallons of gas gets you a LOT farther today with a decent ICE car than it did in 1972, and puts a LOT less s**t into the atmosphere than it ever did. That reality is not something you can deny or minimize.

Like any well-developed technology, the improvements in ICE become smaller over time. That's because the big improvements (fuel injection, electronic ignition, etc.) have been accepted and are now the normal setup.

We haven't heard anything about how the environmental, ecological, and human rights horror show involved with the manufacturing of Lithium and other hi-tech batteries is going to improve either.
 

Aesquire

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Rochester, NY, USA
Internal combustion has not had any real improvement for aviation in a long time,the efficiency of an aircraft engine at cruise power
varies by a tiny bit.
For legacy air cooled Lycosaurs, true. Although as with cars, individually tunable fuel injection has boosted efficiency.

Car engine conversion however, is a moving target. Next year's VW will have camless valve train with individually controlled duration, lift, overlap, timing, acceleration, etc. And are training mechanics today to fix it. So Internal Combustion is actually in a Golden Age. ( so are electric toys, a LiFePolysci etc. Battery is Soooo much better than Lead Acid for cars, skateboards, etc. )

And for "car guys" and others, it's a Golden Age as well. 600+ hp sedans are a signature away at the car dealer. You couldn't buy that with a pile of platinum in 1975.

I'm seriously considering a hybrid car for daily driving as I both anticipate political influence on fuel prices and the rust not so slowly eating my old 2013 minivan. As discussed here, the efficiency of cars depends on power cycles aircraft don't have. So despite the cleverness of the transmission, it might be a poor conversion choice.

But I could be wrong! The planetary gear/IC/dual motor-generator could be a very useful PSRU for a "primarily IC, electric boosted take off" mode aircraft.

also good point about the "70% WOT" setting that's directly related to legacy engines. I'm not phased by flying at Max L/D speed, in a glider. And electric is so marginal that accepting speed, range, limitations & calculations different than an O-360 uses is a price some are willing to pay, but not others.
 

EzyBuildWing

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"Join us for the biggest adventure in History"........ tomorrow(today?) 6PM PST....... so the comms say.
Seems Archer Aviation is going to publicly-unveil something that's really going to set the world on fire......
Let's hope so.
....so be there to enjoy the ride.....

 

dog

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There is a whole lot of deals happening to bring
EVTOL taxis into the market in a big way.
"Uber" the ride share taxi and a company that owns parking garages by the thoudands,flat roofs,down town,world wide.
The unlikly evtol with like two dozen ducted fans on a canard plane is set to put a seven seater in production,with an 11seater after that,targeting flights of around 200miles max.
Everything I read points to charge times becoming irrelavent.
Battery prices are still comimg down and capacity going up.
Still waiting for a doubling of battery capacity,
to be comercialized,though there are several
credible types under development at a variety of the worlds priemier universitys and goverent
run /funded labs.
And to hold all the juice, a new mega battery factory in norther europe.
 

Dan Thomas

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New tech does not have the same mechanical
limitation and shows every sign of achiving the power levels needed for our small aircraft soon.
Hydrogen powered electric planes have the potential for unrefueled ranges much greater than current aircraft(think flying 550miles somewhere there is no fuel and getting back)
So, if this new tech is so good and it's available, why aren't we seeing it? How do they store the hydrogen? Show us the stuff that's available. Please. We want to know.

You see, if there is something better, it sells. If it ain't selling, it's either not better or it doesn't exist or it's horribly expensive.
 

Dan Thomas

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Messages
6,050
There is a whole lot of deals happening to bring
EVTOL taxis into the market in a big way.
Show us the flying protoypes. There's a lot of talk about this stuff happening tomorrow, but don't you think there would be some flying prototypes first? Pretty hard to keep this sort of thing a secret. There is money in news stories, and some journalists are good at smelling out this sort of thing and getting actual pictures of it in flight, not the CGI stuff we see on the websites.
 
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