Electric Air Racer - Design Project

Discussion in 'Aerobatics' started by lauraw, Nov 4, 2015.

  1. lauraw

    lauraw Filing Flight Plan

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    LauraW
    Hello everyone,

    I'm the team leader for a university design project with the aim of designing an electric air racer that could compete in a Red Bull style air race. The project is a collaboration between teams from Loughborough University and Virginia Tech.

    We're currently in the research and initial concept phase of our work and are seeking to gain a better understanding of the characteristics which would make a great air racer. We've created a short survey, link below, that we would really appreciate responses to. Don't feel obliged to answer every questions, any response is helpful.

    https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QPR9VMY

    Thanks,
    Laura
     
  2. frfly172

    frfly172 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Welcome to the forum. I'm not really an air race enthusiast.
     
  3. skylanerg

    skylanerg Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Survey completed. Good luck Laura.
     
  4. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Beat The Hell Outta Alabama! WHOOOP!
    I think powerful but lightweight batteries play a role here. And ones that can be quickly charged since an air race competitor will be called upon to perform several times in one day.

    But I think battery tech still has a way to go to make this concept happen.
     
  5. lauraw

    lauraw Filing Flight Plan

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    Thank you for your feedback :)

    At the moment we're thinking of using batteries or a hydrogen fuel cell to provide a base level of power and then an additional power source (may be supercapitors or flywheels) to give us extra power boosts when required. Hopefully we should be able to keep the weight down if we do this.
     
  6. AggieMike88

    AggieMike88 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Out of curiosity Miss Laura... are any members of your team licensed pilots?
     
  7. StinkBug

    StinkBug Cleared for Takeoff

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    I think weight is gonna be the biggest hurdle. Most air racers I've seen are pretty much nothing but an engine, a minimal amount of thin wall tubing and some fabric. Without the motor and pilot I bet 2 guys could easily pick one up and walk around with it. Possibly one guy if it weren't so cumbersome. Packaging an electric motor and power supply into the same amount of weight and getting the same power will be a challenge for sure.
     
  8. 3393RP

    3393RP Cleared for Takeoff

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    A lost cause. The battery powered aircraft is a bad idea to begin with, and building them to "race" is nonsensical.

    An electrically powered racing vehicle makes no sense at all given the energy density of the best battery technology now available. The FIA (Federation Internationale de l'Automobile) has spent millions on the development of the Formula E single seat open wheel racer, and it's an abject failure from a racing standpoint.

    One just has to watch a race to see that the definition of racing is not in any way served up by these cars. The races are run on circuits of less than two miles and for less than 50 laps, so they actually travel under a hundred miles during the race. They are incredibly slow (135 MPH), underpowered (227 HP), and battery power is so limited that the race is actually interrupted at the midway point so the drivers strap into a second car.

    Considering the entire notion of the racing series is to showcase it's "green" aspect, having to build and use a second car rather tarnishes that bit of show. They advertize the generators used to run the bulk battery chargers run on a mixture that is mostly glycerine, so they can claim it's pollution free. That's a rather tenuous claim to say the least.

    Airbus has spent millions on their electric airplane, yet they have had to admit it's almost completely useless. Even though they cast it as a trainer, it has a forty minute flight duration.

    I don't see the point in building an electric aircraft. The Airbus effort is a completely conventional design. It could have been built twenty years ago.

    The predictable could have been accomplished by designing the aircraft on paper. The weight of the aircraft and propulsion system could have been taken into account, and the performance predicted. That would have shown that the aircraft is only suitable for carrying a few hundred pounds for a limited distance. The ballyhoo attendant with the aircraft's trip across the English Channel was just silly.

    I'm sorry to criticize your effort, Laura. I'm sure you and your mates are putting forth all sorts of effort in the project. But it just doesn't make any sense to design and build this aircraft.

    I don't think it will for many years.
     
  9. Dav8or

    Dav8or En-Route

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    Why in the world do you say this??? A battery powered airplane could be the best personal airplane ever built. I suspect you mean that a battery powered airplane with current battery technology is a bad idea, but even there you are partly wrong.

    Battery powered motor gliders are being built right now that are fantastic. Extending glide time significantly and taking off on their own power. Hopefully in my lifetime, electric airplanes will replace gasoline powered airplanes and the ICE can finally be sent to the museums and vintage/antique hobbyists.

    At this time in history though, electric powered airplanes that can perform like Red Bull air racers is an impossibility.

    To the OP- if you want to build electric airplanes for some sort of competition, I would say that you should design your competition around endurance, or distance flown, not speed and aerobatics. Electric energy storage just isn't at a place yet where this is anyway practical, but in spite of the naysayers, electric airplanes are a reality right now and you could create ways to compete. Just don't expect the general public to care.