Where will the air transportation arrive in the future? Will private jets be the first one converting into electric? The Geneva motor show, who recently promoted a huge inventory of electric cars, made us wonder what will happen to the aviation world, what will be different from the way we all have been knowing it so far?
What is an electric aircraft in details? It’s an aircraft powered by electric motors. The electricity used for the trust and lift that works in antithesis of drag and weight, may be supplied by a variety of methods including batteries, ground power cables, solar cells, ultracapacitors, fuel cells a power beaming.
Driven by the urgency and concerns about global warming and climate changes, governments and companies worldwide are getting ready for a post-oil era.
While there have been made consistent efforts to limit carbon emissions in the aviation industry by using biofuels for example, no clever strategy is in sight, to give place to kerosene-burning technologies.
And yet, as with the car industry, electrical propulsion looks to be the future for aviation as well. Electrically powered aircraft have been flown since the 1970s, if we don’t count one unconfirmed report in 1957. They have developed into small battery-powered aerial vehicles or drones, which in the twenty-first century have become largely used for many purposes. Although manned flights in a tie up helicopter go back to 1917, and in airships to the previous century, the first operator free flight, made by an electrically powered airplane was not made until 1973 and most electric aircraft today are still on a experimental stage.
So why have things been going so slowly airside, compare to the land transportation? Mainly, it seems, because innovators face a very large number of complications. A key challenge in building electric aircraft involves the quantity of energy that can be stored in a given amount of weight of the on-board energy source. Although the best batteries have a storage capacity about 40 times less energy per unit of weight than jet fuel, a greater share of their energy is available to drive motion. Ultimately, for a given weight, jet fuel contains about 14 times more usable energy than an ultra-modern lithium battery.
That makes batteries relatively heavy for aviation, and the manufactures are dealing with this weight issue.
The good point is that, unlike jet engines, the efficiency of electric motors doesn't benefit from size. So, instead of two or more large engines under the wings you can have a jet with many smaller motors distributed along the fuselage, explains the american Wright Electric.
This would lead not only to quieter, cleaner aircraft, but also ones that look radically different to those we are used to look at today.
So, seems like eviation and electric private jets are not too far away… stay tuned!
Foto: Eviation Aircraft