German Firm to Design All Electric Passenger Aircraft

germanflag
germanflag

Bauhaus Luftfahrt, the foremost German aerospace research firm, have released information as to a design concept for a zero emission aircraft. The 190 seater airplane is set to be taxiing off runways by 2035.

The aircraft is named the Ce-Linar and the design showcases twin electric engines that takes its power from a bank of up to sixteen battery arrays. Bauhaus Luftfahrt forecasts that the batteries can power the plane up to 600 nautical miles or 1,110 kilometers of range. They also project that this battery design can be achievable by 2030.

Unfortunately, this aircraft can only cover nearly sixty percent of the routes in the 180 to 200 passenger aircraft sector. This is the category defined by experts as having the greatest potential for emissions reduction in the airline industry.

The company further declares that by 2035 the available technology would allow range extension of up to 900 nautical miles, which can then cover about 80% of market share. Should the unveiling of the aircraft be delayed to 2040, then the concept aircraft’s range can be extended to 1,400 nautical miles along with it improvements in aircraft configuration such as increasing aerodynamic efficiency through the ‘C-wing’ non-planar design. This configuration would be able to increase performance without sacrificing wingspan limitations.

The German design firm says that this concept goes ‘far beyond’ all current designs for all-electric flight concepts. The statement further states, “Recharging the batteries during turnaround is postulated to remain challenging, hence an exchange after each flight is assumed.” Other innovations include electric motors and power transmission wirings that would require high-temperature superconductor technology to allow an increase in available power to weight rations crucial for the plane’s ability to lift itself off the ground.

Other aircraft projects in the pipeline for Bauhaus Luftfahrt is the Claire Liner. This design uses clean air box wing concepts that provide extreme short take off capability through the use of laminar airflow and wing fan integration. This design would be undertaken in partnership with IABG, Germany’s foremost aeronautical testing organization. Other partners include EADS, Liebherr Aerospace, MTU Aero Engines and the Bavarian Ministry of Economics.

Boosting Charging Time

ev-plug
ev-plug

It is inevitable that electric cars are starting to become part of the transport landscape. More and more automakers are including electric vehicles as part of their car fleets. The main drawback of electric cars is that it takes forever to charge and only a short and sweet ride until the next recharge.

If the electric car was charged using a 120-volt circuit, named as Level 1 charging, is very slow. For a Volt to be fully charged, it takes ten hours to charge the batteries. As for the Leaf, with its larger capacity battery, needs twenty hours to fully charge. A Level 1 charge is best for hybrids with its smaller battery. The next level is called Level 2 charging, which uses a 240-volt circuit and the charging cable is hard-wired to a charging station and the charger is built into the car. These chargers use the SAE J1772 connection.

This is the main problem that electric vehicles have and the car designers are looking for ways to give the electric car boosts in charging. The nearest to the best design is the use of a direct current fast charger for the Nissan Leaf that is able to refill the battery to 80 percent capacity in half an hour. Other carmakers have their own design, which makes the problem all the more complicated.

Thus, the lack of a common or universal design for fast charging points for electric vehicles is the greater issue. Even an agreement on a single design for an electrical connector has been subject to much debate. The most common designs in the market today are developed using the Japanese design, which are used by Nissan, Mitsubishi and Subaru in cooperation with Tokyo Electric Power.

The design is called Chademo, which is Japanese for “charge and move”. The design uses a connector that is very differently designed from the ones in use in most electric cars. Thus, with a Chademo compatible electric vehicle such as the Nissan Leaf, it would require two different sockets to charge the batteries.

Most common electric cars can be recharged to a common 120-volt household electrical outlet overnight. Electric cars have a standardized charging cable that has many safety features. One of them would be the box control in the car which, once turned on, would allow electricity to flow through the cord to the car. Another feature would be a GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupter, which signals the vehicle when the cable is connected to the charger. This system makes it impossible for the electric vehicle to drive off while connected.

The Nissan Leaf and the Chevy Volt, including many others that may come after them, would be using the 120-volt cords that are designed to the SAE J1772 standard. This standard was instituted through the work of SAE International, which is a consortium of scientists and vehicle engineers that worked in the development of the design specifications for the J1772 standard. The group is composed of 150 carmakers, electrical equipment makers and utility operators. There are other groups that work on these standards, such as the American National Standards Institute.

The Top Four Issues in Electric Car Use

electricCAR
electricCAR

Despite the publicity regarding electric cars and their benefits, there are still many issues that need to be addressed before the electric car can replace the internal combustion engine car on the major thoroughfares all over the world.

The following are the major developmental issues for the electric car:

  1. Recharging Costs for the Plug-In. The cost of residential electricity is also rising, depending upon the generator of power. If the generator uses fossil fuels, then the cost of electricity is also rising. The majority of generators are still fossil fuel powered, thus charging an electric car for more than six (6) hours. Even at the off peak times, if many in the community are charging their cars simultaneously, then the cost of electricity would certainly increase.
  2. The Number of Recharging Stations Available. Because people travel at all hours of the day over distances, the number of available recharging stations needs to be at the par with or number of current gasoline stations to satisfy the full demand. Without these electric chargers available at short distances, then the electric car revolution may stall and sputter to a stop.
  3. Battery Maintenance Costs. To allow the electric car to travel great distances, a spare battery is needed. Unlike a gas tank that can be refilled at any point, a spare battery and its attendant costs is still a major issue for an average individual. Also, these batteries fully charged need to be available off the shelf. There is also a need to have a home recharging unit for both the main battery and the spare, making this an expense well-above the reach of average income families.
  4. Quality of Batteries. The quality of batteries needs to be improved, as to safety, reliability and mileage. This needs to be addressed first among others, as this is the power source of the electric car. The battery needs to be lighter in weight compared to current designs with an ability to store greater amounts of energy yet be able to charge at a shorter amount of time.

As can be seen, there are major issues that need to be addressed. These are recharging costs, recharging station availability, battery design and maintenance. Once these are addressed, the internal combustion engine car can seriously feel threatened as to the increase and availability of the electric car to the general public.