At the end of the day airplanes are responsible for a huge part of carbon dump into the atmosphere. This should be something interesting to follow, although I’d think we are a good 10-15 years away from something like this to become reality. Promising? What do you think?
I think it would be a huge step to a more green airline business.
I would love to see a world with electric planes as mainstream, as global warming is a huge issue right now and needs to be slowed. However, electric batteries are really really really heavy. I forgot the exact plane, think it was an A340, but to carry the same range as it currently does using electric power would mean it is 6 times greater than MTOW
The tech required should be around within 10 years, the problem is deciding whether to bake it into an existing design, or go clean sheet.
Lithium glass batteries appear to hold promise when it comes to required energy density, and would not pose a fire risk.
Siemens have been playing around with some huge electric motor prototypes, and at present think they could power a turboprop sized aircraft such as a Dash 8.
The last challenge is the charging network. Can you imagine needing to plug in and fast charge 100+ aircraft all at the same time?
Airports will become absolute vampires, sucking masses of energy off the grid. That needs sorting out…
But I think it will be achievable - over the 15 to 20 year timeframe I think we’ll have an electric airliner.
Perhaps the Chinese will have a go first - they love tackling these immense projects.
It’s going to be tough. The issue is converting enough electricity into usable power, in addition to a long enough flight time to be sustainable.
Let me take an example of my electric R/C planes. At 4.0 amps, charging a 22.2V 4000mah battery takes one hour at 1C. When I put it into my Avanti, pulling 55 amps at cruise and over 800 watts of output, I’ll get five minutes of flight time, tops. Heck of a stretch.
I don’t think this would be to difficult as engines now have a huge by pass.
How does jet engine by pass affect electric planes?
Boeing SugarVolt. Perfect…
The bypass is the main thrust i.e. no fuel needed.
Also bear in mind the new electric aircraft would be constant mass - same at takeoff and landing. This would help optimise the structural design and the aero / wing design - the takeoff and landing speeds would be less varied.
Jet engines are horribly inefficient. Let’s assume they are 40% efficient. That means of all the energy available in the tanks, the weight of the fuel, 60% is wasted as heat, sound etc. Horrible!
An electric power unit would be 90+% efficient, with nearly all the battery energy producing thrust.
This means if you calculate how many joules of energy are in the tank as fuel for a given flight, you need far less energy (40 to 50% less) from the batteries to do the same flight electrically.
That’s why the battery part of the problem is reasonably easily solved - the batteries required are a smaller capacity that most people realise.
The batteries would be excruciatingly heavy. I have a Tesla Model S. it is easily one of the heaviest cars around. Heavier than some SUVs.
That being said, an electric motor pumps out INSANE amounts of torque. Huge amounts of horsepower. It may be worthwhile to use this (as an airplane manufacturer) to their advantage. The plane would be much heavier, but maybe it would cancel out with the incredible torque and HP
And as @Stephen_Smith said, fire risk is a huge issue. The batteries would overheat quickly. Now we need a very advanced coolin system. One tiny issue there, and the battlers would combust faster than a dry, dead leaf and a flamethrower. Lol.
A Tesla cannot go at very high speeds (lets say, above 100MPH) for long, until it goes into overheat mode.
And being able to stop them - think about aircraft waiting in a long taxi line - the electric planes can cut the motors off.
Same with descent - you could literally set power consumption to zero, and even have a regeneration system which charges up the batteries during descent.
All these little advantages will add up.
Regen on a Tesla, is great. (And many other hybrid/electric cars).
This would be massively beneficial for a plane. Charging would be hard. We need a way to charge, within the time it takes to park, unload, board, load everything, and go. I’m not sure how long this takes in the real world, maybe @Ryan_Vince could shed some light on this? But I want to GUESS 45 minutes. I can pretty much fill up a Tesla at a supercharger in that time. Maybe a little longer, or a little less.
Filling a Tesla with a supercharger is one thing.
Doing so with a thousand ton 230’ wingspan long jet with an expected flight time of 9 hours at 550mph is another thing entirely.
I know. I’m just saying for reference.
Heavy is the ultimate enemy to flight. Nothing that is heavy will ever become commonplace in flying. If we made some electric 737 sized plane that let’s say is 2.5x as heavy, you’d need 2.5x as much wing area to produce the same lift, which makes more drag, which would be further shown through a smaller AR. Then you have to have the structures to keep a plane that’s 2.5x as heavy together, it’s not a winning battle.
What about just a more powerful engine. 2.5x more powerful? Or am I stupid and that wouldn’t work.
Engines don’t produce lift…
Will need some next technology to build this