2018/11/21: All aircraft engines work by pushing something backwards so that the craft moves forward. Usually this is air, whether cold air driven by electric propellers or hot air fired out by jet engines. Ion propulsion instead sends out charged particles or ions generated in the gap between two electrodes with a high voltage inbetween. The ions interact with the air, creating an ionic wind that is sent backwards, propelling the aircraft forward.
As with propeller-driven solar powered aircraft, ion drive craft are powered by electricity and so don’t need to carry fuel, other than batteries filled with charged particles. The new research shows that, with some clever modifications to the battery setup and the way the electrical power is converted, it’s possible to reduce the battery weight enough to make this technology fly.
To build an ion-powered airliner you would need to increased the amount of power relative to the craft’s size 300 fold.
2018/11/21: When it comes to moving through Earth’s thick atmosphere, however, “everyone saw that the velocity [from an ion thruster] was not sufficient for propelling an aircraft,” Walker says. “Nobody understood how to go forward.”
But Barrett and his team figured out three main things to make Version 2 work. The first was the ionic wind thruster design. Version 2’s thrusters consist of two rows of long metal strands draped under its sky blue wings. The front row conducts some 40,000 volts of electricity—166 times the voltage delivered to the average house, and enough energy to strip the electrons off ample nitrogen atoms hanging in the atmosphere.
When that happens, the nitrogen atoms turn into positively charged ions. Because the back row of metal filaments carries a negative charge, the ions careen toward it like magnetized billiard balls. “Along the way, there are millions of collisions between these ions and neutral air molecules,” Barrett notes. That shoves the air molecules toward the back of the plane, creating a wind that pushes the plane forward fast and hard enough to fly.
The breakthrough offers a great proof of concept showing ion thrusters can be used on Earth, says Alec Gallimore, an aerospace engineer at the University of Michigan who was not involved with the work. But any such use would likely be in limited capacities. Propellers and jets are still far more efficient than the ion wind thrusters Barrett demonstrated, making it unlikely that passenger planes would switch over anytime soon. But the thrusters have one key advantage: “There’s no sound generation. So [drones] for building inspections or things like that”
2018/11/18: The legal validity of flight tickets purchased for the summer immediately after the Brexit deadline is "questionable", an aviation analyst warns.
Alex Macheras said that airlines are taking matters "into their own hands" by reregistering their aircraft in European Union countries so that they can continue to fly certain routes.
"They want to hold onto their intra-European routes and the only way to guarantee that is to have jets registered inside the EU," he said.
But when Ian Payne asked what impact a no-deal Brexit would have on passengers, he warned that the legal validity of some flight tickets would be "questionable".
"Now as we stand in late-2018, you can go and book for summer 2019," he said.
"The legal validity of those tickets is questionable.
"But ultimately it all does fall back down on to that hope that they need to keep aviation running.
"There can never be just a stop to how aviation works, and ultimately that's the foundation everyone is relying on."
2018/sep/26: There may be more bicycles but there will also be more planes. We’re still in denial about the scale of the threat to the planet.
Beyond a certain point, economic growth – the force that lifted people out of poverty, and cured deprivation, squalor and disease – tips us back into those conditions.
how come oil production, for the first time in history, is about to hit 100m barrels a day? How come the oil industry expects demand to climb until the 2030s? How is it that in Germany, whose energy transition (Energiewende) was supposed to be a model for the world, protesters are being beaten up by police as they try to defend the 12,000-year-old Hambacher forest from an opencast mine extracting lignite – the dirtiest form of coal? Why have investments in Canadian tar sands – the dirtiest source of oil – doubled in a year?
The answer is, growth. There may be more electric vehicles on the world’s roads, but there are also more internal combustion engines. Given that economic growth, in nations that are already rich enough to meet the needs of all, requires an increase in pointless consumption, it is hard to see how it can ever be decoupled from the assault on the living planet.
It doesn’t matter how many good things we do: preventing climate breakdown means ceasing to do bad things.
Electric vehicles have driven a new resource rush, particularly for lithium, that is already polluting rivers and trashing precious wild places. Clean growth is as much of an oxymoron as clean coal.
Even if we do manage to secure flights to those 17 countries, there is no assurance the agreements will be as favourable as they are now. The US has reportedly offered a significantly inferior deal.
The key plank of the no-deal disaster, however, arises not from bilateral permissions but safety certificates.
The European Commission has confirmed that, in the event of no deal, the certificates granted by the UK's Civil Aviation Authority to pilots, engineers and cabin crew would no longer be considered valid.
UK-certified firms wouldn't even be able to continue supplying parts for EU planes.
The government frankly admits, for example, that the UK would be out of the Single European Sky, which harmonises air navigation, and that UK airlines would no longer be able to fly between two EU airports.
if we don't manage to re-join the Interbus agreement and the EU doesn't recognise the UK's permits, all coach services could be suspended too.
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