Why battery-powered aircraft will never have significant range

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raumzeit

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Interesting. But I am unaware of graphite being used in mass production batteries today. I have seen some stuff about graphite batteries in the lab, some showing even early proof of concept production cell batteries. But this is still years away from GA.

Or did I miss something (always very possible).

Tim
In R-C world, there's really high-discharge graphene-substrate batteries for sale now. Power-density not much different than regular polymer though, and really expensive $/Ah.
 

Sockmonkey

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Most science articles are written by guys who write articles, not by scientists.
One thing I hate about sci-fi is that it's where most people get their science education.
 

Rhino

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...One thing I hate about sci-fi is that it's where most people get their science education.
Let me fix that for you.

Of the people who actually get an education, that's where most of them get their science education.

There. That's better.
 

EzyBuildWing

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Why ICE engines quit...... a really great vid..... none of these problems exist with electric.....
Lockwood Aircam can successfully climb-out on a single 582.
Makes me think Aircam with twin electric pusher-motors is the way to go.......
Or alternatively a twin electric "Rancher"(Moyes Dragonfly)pusher.....
Has to be the way to go.....

 

akwrencher

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The secret to magic electronic boxes and motors and such is to not let out the magic smoke. They work perfectly until the magic smoke starts to leak........
 

Rhino

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Oh don't get me wrong. I have nothing against electric propulsion. It's these ridiculous 'electric is perfect and everything is horrible junk' attitudes that are so irritating. I'd be willing to bet that at least half of the seemingly anti-electric posts in this thread were prompted more by the holier than thou pro-electric attitudes displayed here, rather than by an actual bias against electric propulsion. The arrogant attitudes of the pro electric people are doing more to hurt their case than help it.
 

Saville

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Oh don't get me wrong. I have nothing against electric propulsion. It's these ridiculous 'electric is perfect and everything is horrible junk' attitudes that are so irritating. I'd be willing to bet that at least half of the seemingly anti-electric posts in this thread were prompted more by the holier than thou pro-electric attitudes displayed here, rather than by an actual bias against electric propulsion. The arrogant attitudes of the pro electric people are doing more to hurt their case than help it.
Precisely
 

tspear

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Oh don't get me wrong. I have nothing against electric propulsion. It's these ridiculous 'electric is perfect and everything is horrible junk' attitudes that are so irritating. I'd be willing to bet that at least half of the seemingly anti-electric posts in this thread were prompted more by the holier than thou pro-electric attitudes displayed here, rather than by an actual bias against electric propulsion. The arrogant attitudes of the pro electric people are doing more to hurt their case than help it.
And the counter applies also. There are plenty on this thread who have an attitude that ICE is perfect, and nothing shall surpass it. Starting with the opening post. :)

Electric, ICE, turbines all have issues. The problems can be cost (e.g. turbines), range (electric), reliability (ICE), or even the propensity to catch fire (all of them). The super majority of posters in this thread actually either discount the problems with their preferred solution because the issues are "known" to them, or discount the problems because their heads are in the sky.
The reality, like most things, is somewhere in the middle.

Tim
 

Dan Thomas

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Yep.... like I said, ......electric Pipistrel can't suffer from throwing a rod through the case, contaminated fuel, stuck valves, carb icing, magneto failure etc etc
Want to know a fact? 90% of all performance problems with spark-ignited internal combustion engines are electrical problems. Ignition. I was taught that more than 50 years ago by my power mechanics instructor, and I have found it true all this time, in both automobiles and airplanes. People will often chase the fuel system trying to fix a troublesome engine, when the whole time it's a weak spark or some EFI issue on the electrical side. Or a failed electric fuel pump. Or a failed alternator or regulator. Weak spark means poor performance; some folks think any spark is enough. Not true. It needs to be robust and it needs to be on time.

So now we put an electric motor and a bunch of batteries in an airplane, and connect everything through dozens of connections and electronic controllers. Lots of failure points that can fail, and any one of them, usually, can kill the whole thing. What could possibly go wrong????

Throw a rod through the case? That's so rare it's not funny. Electric motor bearing failure would be at least as common. Carb ice? Poor training and understanding is the problem, and poor training on an electric airplane will result in failure, too; the pilot will run the batteries dead or something.

Too many proponents of electric just don't know the real world like aircraft and auto mechanics do. They present rare failures as proof of common failures, and electric propulsion as failure-proof. They're not objective at all. Like I've said many times, wishful thinking doesn't fix anything. Only real advances in technology do that.
 

Dusan

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As per https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/News-and-Research/Fire-statistics-and-reports/US-Fire-Problem/osvehiclefires.pdf there were 181,700 highway vehicle fires per years 2013–2017. Not sure how many were electric propulsion vehicles but I assume not many.

As the battery gravimetric energy density (specific energy) is 40 times less than gasoline, you are much less likely to die of an electric car fire.

I also do not believe Tesla's assessment that "fuel-powered cars are about 11 times more likely to catch fire than a Tesla", but according to When EVs catch fire, the blazes can be insanely intense | Popular Science "Experts agree that electric cars catch fire less often than gasoline-powered cars" so maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Each propulsion system has it's own specific problems. The electric propulsion is still at it's infancy, a lot of problems are lurking in the shadows, and some are really hard to quantise even by experts, much less intuitive than mechanical systems - usually a mechanical thing, e.g. a cam - just by looking at it you can say if it's weared out and it should be replaced, but a transistor you cannot really predict if it will fail the next hour or in 10 years. That being said, history is teaching us that usually solid state electronics is more reliable than mechanical counterparts if done correctly. I assume this will be true for a future electric propulsion for aviation. For now - from my experience - my 8 years old Tesla S did not have any electronics, motor or battery problem, but I needed to replace almost all suspension bushings.
 

akwrencher

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We helped ship a car all the way to Seattle (1000 miles, by barge) to get fixed. It was all electric Nissan. Dan is right, vast majority of failures are electrical. Thats not to say I am against electric cars or airplanes at all. Just be realistic about it.

Boss has a F350 Diesel plow truck for work. It has broke down many times. Most problems, not all, have been highly stressed electronics. Turns out too much heat let's out the magic smoke.......
 

Rhino

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And the counter applies also. There are plenty on this thread who have an attitude that ICE is perfect, and nothing shall surpass it. Starting with the opening post. :)
Negative, ghost rider. Although it does happen on both sides, I've seen very little of that attitude displayed by ICE proponents, save knee jerk reactions to the attitudes of electric propulsion proponents, and your cite of the first post is a stellar example. Nowhere did that post come even remotely close to claiming ICE is perfect. It never mentioned ICE at all. It also very clearly said in several places, including the summary statement, that the best days of electric propulsion are the future. Never have I seen anyone cite electric propulsion failures, and then claim ICE suffers no such failures, and certainly I have never seen an ICE proponent claim he was obviously only citing a specific failure that was nowhere in what he posted. Yes, the attitude is sometimes displayed by ICE proponents, but nowhere near on the level of the other side. You can be as zealous as you want about what you believe in. That's certainly your right. There's absolutely nothing wrong with alternative opinions. Some of the greatest technological advancements in human history started out with alternative opinions. But you don't win over new adherents by insulting anyone who disagrees with you or by making claims not supported by facts. And you will get called out on it. As I said, I have nothing against electric propulsion, and just like the original post I believe it's best days are ahead. I also welcome reasoned posts on electric propulsion that aren't insulting. Homebuilt aviation is heavily grounded in welcoming innovation, as is this forum. I view such posts as a great addition here. But I don't care for insulting, smug arrogance, and I never will. And I don't think it's a great stretch to say many others here agree.

You're absolutely right that each form of propulsion has it's own ups and downs, and that it's just in it's infancy with it's best days ahead. That's the kind of reasoned advocacy I welcome, and I hope you post more.
 
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Topaz

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And the counter applies also. There are plenty on this thread who have an attitude that ICE is perfect, and nothing shall surpass it. Starting with the opening post. :)
Plenty of this effect on both sides, I agree.

... , reliability (ICE), or even the propensity to catch fire (all of them). ...
Wait, what? ICE engines have some kind of reliability problem? Since when? Same with catching fire. Since when are gasoline engines consistently catching fire and causing accidents? I'm under some of the busiest airspace in the world and I've yet to see any airplane come falling from the sky with a broken or burning engine. Yes, it happens, but it's not like you could say it happens even "occasionally" and if it did, we'd have found alternatives long ago.

Let's not be hyperbolic in our quest for "rhetoric equality" here.
 

Dan Thomas

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If electric airplanes get the same level of maintenance as so many ICE airplanes, they will crash just as often. Electrical stuff is no more forgiving of neglect than any other stuff.
 
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