Currently most of the electric aircraft prototypes aren’t worth their salt. It’s not that they don’t work, sure they do; they can take-off and land and fly around. And they are much quieter, which is a very good thing when you’re riding inside of a small light aircraft, not to mention noise abatement issues in nearby encroaching communities. The problem with electric aircraft right now is the range, it’s not a new problem, but it is a pervasive one. The aircraft just runs out of juice, and the batteries are fully discharged before you had a reasonable time in the air.
Of course, in the future advanced battery technology will take care of this problem, as the batteries will have more power and less weight. Obviously, in a light aircraft weight is paramount, and the lighter the load, the better the range, and the less energy you need to propel the aircraft to altitude. What do I think are the prospects for electric light aircraft? Well, let’s talk about that if we might.
This technology will get there thanks to advances in material science especially when it comes to advanced materials used in making batteries. We can only make the aircraft so light with carbon composites, but the batteries also have to be lightweight. Aviation fuel weighs about 7 pounds per gallon, and for the same amount of energy output, batteries are much heavier.
Perhaps we need to take the battery technology back to the drawing board. In fact I have an idea. Think of a foam-like solution which spreads out like a fractal model which fills all the empty cavities in the wing and fuselage. Then imagine the wings of carbon nanotube – graphene composite which collect friction from the trade of electrons as the relative wind travels over the skin, helping to maintain some of the charge –not enough to power the aircraft – just prolong the voltage – trickle charging constantly — I think we need to rethink this, and if anyone wants to take this to a higher level rather than talking about how great it will be once new material science figures out the battery weight problem.
Right now, there are many electric aircraft prototypes being flown around, and some of them are doing quite well, but none of them have the range to compete with aviation fuel in reciprocating engines much less jet turbines, or turboprops. There will come a day perhaps within this decade where the battery technology can catch up, but we are going to have to rethink how we do things, it will have to go back to the drawing board, and we will have to get serious about reengineering our electric aircraft future to bring on the NEXT GEN for general aviation. Please consider all this and think on it.
Lance Winslow has launched a new series of eBooks on the Aviation and Aerospace Topics. Lance Winslow is a retired Founder of a The Aircraft Wash Guys, a Nationwide Franchise Chain, and now runs the Online Think Tank; http://www.worldthinktank.net.
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