Why battery-powered aircraft will never have significant range

Homebuilt Aircraft & Kit Plane Forum

Help Support Homebuilt Aircraft & Kit Plane Forum:

patrickrio

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2020
Messages
347
Dog. I have actually wondered what you did for your whole system to be completely self sufficient.... I have seen little pieces of info but the best systems are all encompassing. What have you done for Batteries, Heat, AC, Lighting, Insulation, Refrigeration etc....

Must be interesting to be self sufficient in the winter, on the east coast, so far north.....
 
Last edited:

proppastie

Well-Known Member
Log Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2012
Messages
5,230
Location
NJ
I read/heard 30-50% transmission losses for the grid....so a distributed system might make sense.....also some noise about "solid state" "capacitance" batteries which are in testing and are a step up from existing batteries....as to all that plastic in the ocean....collect it and burn it to produce power,.....remember big oil does not want change and it is very easy to distribute misinformation..
 

dog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2019
Messages
578
How do I talk about my solar PV set up and tie it into HBA
The pannels are mounted on my shipping can shop,which houses my cristavia project,and the same system is used to power all of the smaller(under 3hp) tools I use on my project and everything else.
My current battery is a [email protected] volt,gel cell,
that is getting worn out,inverter is a
Magnum 48v,to 120/220 split phase,sine wave
and the charge controller is a Midnight 150,
pv is a mixed bad and around 3kw.
Fridge is from 1959,and runs fine ,manual defrost,350watts full bore,freezer is an apartment size ,300 watts,220 v 3/4 hp water pump,led lights,propane hot water amd cookin,
wood heat,going over to propane hot water heat as I am traveling a lot and its an old,old, farm house made from used boards from an even older house sitting on a hand cut stone foundation from a much more ancient place of
which I have the last piece ,gun stock posts,birch bark as flashing,split lathe,as a
small barn for my horse.
Have a gas powred welder that has been been
used to charge the house battery last winter as the batteries are not up to snuff.
I am humming and hawing about my next battery and solar upgrade which will happen this fall,going to have a minumum of 5 kw solar,and the battery will be more than 500a/hr
Will sell of most of my old solar,and put the best batteries left into a tertiary use on a second system at another place.
Live on the 45th parallel,and the whole system is designed to make enough power in the fall and winter,right now the batteries are in float an hour after daylight and I can run everything
all at once.
For people who are grid tied with a south facing roof of 12/12 pitch,my latitudes best angle,it is a no brainer,and there are multiple
incentives,etc,of which I have never used because my whole set up is uninspected and
the beurocrats cant figure out what to do,as in
they have tried to shut me down,and hire me.
This is NOT for everybody and I generaly only
advocate for grid tied.
The tech has improved dramaticaly since I took
my house of the grid 11years ago and costs are a small fraction of what they were.
I have every intention of putting 5 solar panels
on the fueselage and wing of my Cristavia project,though 3 might be overkill and we will
see.
 

BFE_Duke

Member
Joined
Jun 10, 2021
Messages
13
Looking on their website, they listed a battery with a nominal voltage of 345V and 30Ah and 72 kg. This works out to about 144 Wh/kg. In our application we use about 180. The current technology is around 250 if you push it. There are lots of news looking at 400-500 Wh/kg. So, if they went from 144 to 400, that would be quite a change and starts to get interesting. I'm guessing we'll get in the 500 Wh/kg range, but after that, who knows. Would probably require some big breakthroughs. Still not quite in the range that is practical to us unless we're talking ultralights and self-launch gliders, or short duration trainers.

Otherwise, with all the electrified stuff out there (cars, motorcycles, lawn mowers, busses, locomotives, drills, etc.), it's not like we're starting from scratch or alone in this endeavor. With about 500 designs (in eVTOL news), some flying, a crazy amount of money and effort (from some big names) is going into it.
Keep in mind their 144 wh/kg is at the pack level. The best cells right now are around 270 wh/kg, but that's at the cell level. Add on the structure, BMS system, and cooling system and 144 wh/kg is not great but not th at terrible. Even though Tesla's cells are at around 260-265 wh/kg, their latest battery pack is still around 181 wh/kg.
 

PiperCruisin

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2017
Messages
227
Location
Idaho
Keep in mind their 144 wh/kg is at the pack level. The best cells right now are around 270 wh/kg, but that's at the cell level. Add on the structure, BMS system, and cooling system and 144 wh/kg is not great but not th at terrible. Even though Tesla's cells are at around 260-265 wh/kg, their latest battery pack is still around 181 wh/kg.
Yeah, I don't see much use in the cell level. We design for pack level.
 

PagoBay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2013
Messages
325
Location
US Territory of Guam
I read/heard 30-50% transmission losses for the grid....so a distributed system might make sense.....also some noise about "solid state" "capacitance" batteries which are in testing and are a step up from existing batteries....as to all that plastic in the ocean....collect it and burn it to produce power,.....remember big oil does not want change and it is very easy to distribute misinformation..
Good article on the state of the art in plastic incineration. Here is a clip. See the last short paragraph for the an$wer.

A more attractive technology right now is pyrolysis, in which plastics are shredded and melted at lower temperatures than gasification and in the presence of even less oxygen. The heat breaks plastic polymers down into smaller hydrocarbons, which can be refined to diesel fuel and even into other petrochemical products—including new plastics. (The Alliance to End Plastic Waste includes pyrolysis companies.)

Seven relatively small pyrolysis plants now operate in the U.S., some still in demonstration phase, and the technology appears to be expanding worldwide, with facilities in Europe, China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines. The American Chemistry Council estimates that the U.S. could sustain 600 pyrolysis units handling 30 tons of plastics a day, for a total of around 6.5 million tons a year—just under a fifth of the 34.5 million tons of plastic waste the country now generates.

Pyrolysis can handle the films, pouches, and multi-layered materials that most mechanical recyclers cannot, says Priyanka Bakaya, founder of the plastic-to-fuel company Renewlogy. And it produces no harmful pollutants, she says, other than “a minimal amount of carbon dioxide.”


On the other hand, critics call pyrolysis an expensive and immature technology, with startups that have come and gone over the years, unable to meet their pollution control limits, or technical and financial goals. It is still cheaper to make diesel from fossil fuel than from waste plastic.

 

Vigilant1

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 24, 2011
Messages
6,794
Location
US
I read/heard 30-50% transmission losses for the grid.
Transmission and distribution losses for the US electrical grid are about 5%.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Putting solar panels on residential rooftops is among the most expensive and dangerous ways to get solar power (both immediate capital expenditures and ongoing maintenance costs). From a cost and environmental standpoint, putting panels in larger installations (industrial rooftops, over parking lots, etc) makes much more sense. Each panel (on average) produces more power (optimal orientation, no trees) they are cheaper to maintain and service, and they last longer.

That doesn't mean a person shouldn't put panels on his/her house. It does mean that the same resources spent in a different way would produce more energy at lower environmental cost.
 
Last edited:

Aesquire

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 28, 2014
Messages
2,958
Location
Rochester, NY, USA
Just as the Homebuilders near Boeing and other aircraft plants have long gleaned surplus and scrap materials for projects, the Mines of Tomorrow are the landfills of today. Getting the useful stuff out of garbage is a daunting task, but someone will figure out the conveyer belt through a multi-stage process to reduce the organics, plastic, etc. ( Diapers are silver mines of organics ) sort out the metals and both make a profit, and not pollute worse than just burning it all would have been.

The Nuclear waste now has the promise of being burned up, as the technology of 1940's SF finally is ready in real life. In the story "Blowups Happen" 1940 by Heinlein, using only public knowledge, had a nuclear plant run by feeding neutrons into a mass of Uranium. For drama plot reasons, the process is done on a knife edge of stability between nothing much and Utah is Missing. That's not how things work in reactors even then, but that stuff was Really Secret, and Heinlein rather infamously was visited by the FBI for another story that made them think he'd penetrated the Manhattan Project, "Solution Unsatisfactory". A story in 1940 about a secret atomic bomb project. ( Highly recommended.... just read all his stuff )

Insert here rant about the FBI and technology they don't understand or want you to either. I was far too involved in one such case. Heinlein apparently convinced them that any scientist would assume that there was such a project, and thanked them for cuing him that there actually was.

So, Real World, we now can use neutron beams to speed radioactive waste through it's life cycle at speed and use the heat to power most of the system, if not a big surplus to put to the grid. Not sure the current state of the projects, the idea is awesome but it's not a political popular thing in today's cults/hype and I don't expect to see much about it until some Senator thinks it will get him reelected.
 

tspear

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2014
Messages
987
Location
Outside Boston
What is the trite phrase? Necessity is the mother of invention?
Li and Cobalt for batteries are a short term answer. The mining, production, refining and use are very expensive both in terms of cash and environmental factors.
When you look at the GM Pouch battery and Tesla's new batteries, they continue to reduce the amount of rare earth material, not for some altruistic motive, but because of cost.

This is also why you are starting to see so many battery technology working concepts in the lab made almost exclusively from carbon, silicon and sodium. Links to one example of graphene style of batteries posted earlier in the thread, same for many others. Enough of this tech is starting to get to from the lab to demo units, it is likely now just a matter of time before one of the hundreds of approaches makes it into production. Which one? No idea, but if you have an inside scoop, let me know so I can get in on it :) Personally, I think you will see early adopters with some of these new batteries in less then five years.

In terms of planes, I think Pipistrel is way ahead of everyone else. It will not take long before before they have battery packs than will make the trainer useful beyond basic pattern work and viable for the complete PPL. The only question is what will be the total cost over the life cycle of the plane, and if there are countervailing additional benefits such as reduced noise.

Tim
 

proppastie

Well-Known Member
Log Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2012
Messages
5,230
Location
NJ

Vigilant1

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 24, 2011
Messages
6,794
Location
US
Maybe the US EIA figure of 5% is for the US T&D losses, and perhaps Mr Jignesh Parmar's estimates are right for India.


Courtesy of Kanpur Electrical Supply Company, India

T&D losses vary a LOT from country to country. Here's a brief paper on it from USAID:
https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1865/Technical-Note_Loss-Reduction_0.pdf

From that paper:
"In brief, T&D losses represent the amount of electricity produced and injected into the grid but not paid for by users due to technical inefficiencies and to theft, meter tampering, and billing and accounting errors. (See Box 1 for detailed definition). A well performing utility in a developing country may have a total loss level of 10% or below. By comparison, losses in the U.S. average about 5%. In the U.S., losses consist primarily of technical losses whereas in developing countries with high losses, they mainly consist of non-technical losses. Higher loss levels usually indicate poor management, corruption, and/or lack of resources and expertise in knowing how to address them . . ."
 
Last edited:

Andy_RR

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 29, 2009
Messages
308
Location
Melbourne, Australia
There's a PBS Nova documentary on this electric aeroplane thingy. Worth a watch, albeit it's not aimed at informing engineers. Short version here:

The documentary maker talks with Paul Bertorelli here about it all - also an interesting take on it all:
 

PagoBay

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2013
Messages
325
Location
US Territory of Guam
More of those electric "Thingys".
ELECTRIC TWIN
JET IT AND JETCLUB SIGN ON AS LAUNCH CUSTOMERS
June 23, 2021
Two firms founded to rethink general aviation travel have signed on to purchase the first electric eight-seat twins from Bye Aerospace, airplanes that could roll off the factory floor as soon as 2024.
 

Rhino

Well-Known Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 8, 2004
Messages
1,475
Location
KTHA
More of those electric "Thingys".
ELECTRIC TWIN
JET IT AND JETCLUB SIGN ON AS LAUNCH CUSTOMERS
June 23, 2021
Two firms founded to rethink general aviation travel have signed on to purchase the first electric eight-seat twins from Bye Aerospace, airplanes that could roll off the factory floor as soon as 2024.
Lithium sulphur batteries. Hmmm. Makes me wonder how much technology will advance while they try for FAA certification at it's inherent glacial pace. It could be obsolete by the time the FAA approves it.

The marketing is interesting "...flyable for one-fifth the hourly cost of the legacy twin turboprops, such as the Beechcraft King Air 260, that it seeks to replace". One fifth the cost (if they actually achieve their goals), but a little under one third the range. They don't mention recharge time. It might work well in the right market though. Not everybody needs 1,700 nm range and rapid turnaround.
 

Victor Bravo

Well-Known Member
HBA Supporter
Joined
Jul 30, 2014
Messages
9,573
Location
KWHP, Los Angeles CA, USA
They could make an order of magnitude reduction in vehicle complexity and COST for the whole urban air mobility thing, by accepting E-STOL instead of E-VTOL.

A 1000 foot section of some large industrial parking lot near downtown, repurposed for STOL, could allow this to happen in a couple of years, not 10+. No morphing airframes, no tilting wings, no monkey motion with the motor nacelles requiring a whole roomful of PhD's designing the control system.

Single human pilot, wiggling a stick and foot pedals, enjoying the one power lever simplicity.

The small "distributed" motors on the leading edge, plus large double-slot fowler DeHavilland style flaps ("blown" by the distributed propeller flow), would allow a 6 place conventional airplane commuter vehicle (something the size of a fat 207 or Caravan, 125-150 MPH cruise, 40 MPH Vso) to operate in 500 feet of runway, leaving a 100% margin for density altitude and gusts and what-not. Heck, the guys in Alaska almost do that with a stock 206 or 207 right now.
 

John.Roo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 8, 2013
Messages
927
Location
Letohrad / Czech Republic
More of those electric "Thingys".
ELECTRIC TWIN
JET IT AND JETCLUB SIGN ON AS LAUNCH CUSTOMERS
June 23, 2021
Two firms founded to rethink general aviation travel have signed on to purchase the first electric eight-seat twins from Bye Aerospace, airplanes that could roll off the factory floor as soon as 2024.
I don´t understand actual world....
Except Pipistrel and his Velis is no company producing certified electric airplane. And Velis is actually offering +- 60 minutes flights in airport area. Nice render picture or flight of unmanned "model" (doesn´t matter if is 1:1 or different scale) is enough to get customers?

New "lithium sulphur batteries".... are they already tested? FAA/CAA approved? Are they already used somewhere out of laboratory? Is known price per kWh? How many cycles you can make till 90% capacity etc.... In short - how are designers/engineers/investors calculating costs per hour if they have no complete technical info?

Design of Bye Airspace Twin is very nice. Idea to have "twin motor electric airplane" is OK. I would personally make only one small change on design - bigger windows for passengers. And maybe longer wings.... (god I am definitelly too much affected by motorgliders) :)
 

dog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2019
Messages
578
My understanding of grid losses is that the nature of the grid means that it is horribly inificient off peak,as there is no way to throtle
the monster sized generators and that the current MUST go somewhere,so they burm it in resistance air heaters.And so all the schemes for reduced costs in off peak hours and the web based therostats.
The same issues drive much of the resostance to solar as it is a variable input that gives grid
managers more work,though they might call it
something else.
Tuff luck.
For anyone with lots of roof and extra land,like
say flat land,with access to services and secure,know of anything like that?,then getting
out the pointy pencil and making some calls
could be a good thing.
The word pragmatism or just the concept/philosophy is promoted here on HBA
with no critisism from anyone,ever.
Solar is now just that,pragmatic.
If greenwashing the local FBO helps
the local politicians and they get to cut a ribbon
and the anti- aviation nuts are left squirming,
and the thing makes money,then put on a green
hat,smile,nod,make the most of promoting your
airport and then go flying.
 

dwalker

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 6, 2021
Messages
367
Location
Tennessee
This Electric Vehicles Do Battle On Pikes Peak

is an interesting history of the Pikes peak
hill climb done electricaly,which is now the only
way to be competitive and have any chance of
setting a record.
And time to climb records are going electric as well.
My friend Mike is part of one of the electric efforts this year.
 
Top