Pipistrel Velis Electro

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by David Megginson, Sep 20, 2021.

  1. Todd82

    Todd82 Line Up and Wait

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    Every time someone touts hybrid technology I just laugh to myself thinking about the railroads who've been (and still are) using diesel-electric hybrids for over 80 years now.
     
  2. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pattern Altitude

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    A friend of mine recently retired from the railroad. But you're correct ...it'll never work! ;)
     
  3. schmookeeg

    schmookeeg En-Route

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    I wonder how one of these battery packs does in a crash
     
  4. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    I think that was definitely true in the 1990s. I think electric cars are probably approaching the break-even point now, and may actually be slightly on the positive side of the ledger soon, especially with the (slight) reduction in coal use for power generation in rich countries, longer battery endurance, and somewhat-improved disposal practices.

    Fully agreed that driving an electric car doesn't deserve praise and make you "green," just a lighter shade of smoggy grey. Genuine "green" would involve major lifestyle changes and sacrifices, not just a different powertrain for your personal car.
     
  5. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    The annoying thing about airplanes is the low weight limits. That's the difference between a hybrid car or diesel-electric locomotive (or non-nuclear submarine, to give another >100-year-old hybrid-electric example) and a hybrid airplane — we can barely handle the weight of one propulsion system, much less two.

    There may be a work-around, but it's tough, and past work on hybrid ground and sea propulsion will be little help.
     
  6. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    The FAQ on the Pipistrel web site states that the batteries passed crashworthiness testing, probably as part of the EASA certification process. You can go there for more details if you're interested.
     
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  7. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    No worse than 20 gallons of 100LL. ;-)
     
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  8. 3393RP

    3393RP En-Route

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    The same old predictions. Batteries will magically turn an exponential improvement, and electric power for all transportation will be cheap and plentiful.

    This bromide is endlessly trotted out, especially by those that have no idea what they're talking about.

    EVTOL is coming! The skies will be filled with autonomous distributed propulsion air taxis!
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2021
  9. Lachlan

    Lachlan En-Route

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    Forgive me. I often forget that we’re all still using flooded lead acid batteries and double-A alkalines, and battery technology hasn’t changed in the last, well, ever.

    Has anyone ever noticed how the people who rail against “energy density” in battery storage capacity rarely ever compare it to gph and useful load for internal combustion power plants? Fear is the enemy of change. ;)

    I have no desire to fly an electric airplane or own an electric vehicle, but I can admit there’s some seriously focused work going on in these areas, and it’s working. It will get cooler and better. Innovate or die.
     
  10. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    I've noticed that nobody said the things you built your strawman post to criticize. :confused:
     
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  11. GaryM

    GaryM Line Up and Wait

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    My own prediction, as a chemist--but not one with experience in battery tech--is that battery technology will improve incrementally, forever. What tech doesn't? But the incremental improvements will be modest. I think there will be the occasional leap forward as new chemistries are identified, but they will be rare.

    Overall, I don't think capacity will double in my lifetime, or my children's. And capacity isn't the only metric that matters. Increasing capacity while maintaining adequate charge times, useable charge cycles, cost, and safety makes this all the more difficult.

    I think I'll own an electric vehicle at some point, probably keeping a gas burner as the family's second car. I doubt I'll ever own an electric airplane, but that's more a consideration of how many flying years I have left rather than a prediction of what the market for electric planes will look like in 20 years.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2021
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  12. Lachlan

    Lachlan En-Route

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    You sure about that? No one doubted, downplayed or derided advancements in battery tech? Ever? (Just look right above this thread.) Battery tech, materials, capacities, discharge rates, charging times, and size have already improved “exponentially” in the last few years, Uncle Rip. Nice beard, it’s very long. ;)

    Love Always,

    The Scarecrow
     
  13. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    The only post that mentioned lead acid or Alkaline is yours.
     
  14. Lachlan

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    Seems like a swappable cell would be a great idea until the actual process is considered. It wouldn’t be easy. Swapping (recharging) BTUs into a wing tank is pretty fast and easy, as long as there is fuel to pump.

    Here’s one to consider: the new Pipistrel has about an hour of flight time (pls res) on a charge. A 150 used for training has about the same with most combinations of student/instructor on board. ;)
     
  15. Lachlan

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    But several hinted (intimated, even!) that battery tech isn’t good enough yet, but here we are discussing (sort of…) a fully electric-powered production airplane that is the 2nd model from a single mfg. Weird, huh? Don’t worry, no one is trying to get you to love battery power. I don’t. I am not interested in owning an electric airplane currently. The flight times aren’t long enough yet, but I believe they will improve. It’s hard to be unwilling to admit that the technology is not being advanced, though. Everything has its limit, including the BTUs in a tank of gas, the lbs of fuel onboard. Will electricity ever overcome that? Ironically, coal miners don’t use coal headlamps (they used carbide lamps that lasted about 1/2 a shift) but good old coal makes great electricity. :)
     
  16. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Battery capacity has already doubled in your lifetime. Why would it not do so in the future, considering that now there is at least an order of magnitude more investment? Metal lithium cathodes have the ability to double the energy density of lithium batteries. That is just one possible route and there are about 100 more routes that science has not yet discovered, that we can not even argue about yet.

    Did you correctly predict that people living in shacks across Africa would own a cellphone and could instantly transfer money wireless around the world, among other things (not to mention, often get better signal than we do)?
    Or did you predict that we would be able to use a simple device that can change and modify DNA like Crispr?

    If you can predict the future, please tell us all what is coming next.
     
  17. GaryM

    GaryM Line Up and Wait

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    No need, I'll leave you to the predictions.
    But if you think past doubling somehow predicts future doublings, and redoublings, I'd advise that you stay out of the casinos.
     
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  18. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    Really, there shouldn't be a debate.

    Whatever you believe about the theoretical limits of battery tech, it's extremely improbable that we'll see an all-electric plane with the speed, load, and endurance of a high-performance ICE single in the lifetime of anyone reading this thread.

    On the other hand we already have an all-electric plane that's being used successfully for primary flight training, so it seems that that argument should be over. It happened.

    I'd expect to see incremental improvements continuing there, as all-electric planes become capable of meeting more requirements at the simpler end of the aviation spectrum, but probably nothing revolutionary.

    Maybe I'll even own an electric plane some day when I'm retired, day VFR only, have a fixed income, and just want to go up sightseeing once in awhile.
     
  19. Kenny Phillips

    Kenny Phillips En-Route

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    But then you have a dangerous operation stuck in there.
     
  20. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    Totally depends on how you define success.
     
  21. David Megginson

    David Megginson Pattern Altitude

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    That's just it. The Pipistrel Velis Electro has two batteries that weigh >150 lb each. Do we really expect an 18-year-old line guy or harried instructor to hoist those out and hoist charged ones in, in just a few minutes between lessons, maybe 5–10×/day without damaging the plane, failing to secure the batteries properly, or injuring themselves?

    By comparison, the O-200 engine in a Cessna 150 weighs 190lb, so we're talking about something analogous to hoisting that engine out of and into the plane — twice — on the ramp between every flight.

    Someone will figure out a workable solution, I hope, but interchangeable, modular batteries will be practical for cars long before they're practical for our fragile little airplanes, I think.
     
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  22. Stephen Poole

    Stephen Poole Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    I agree. Other chemists on this forum have discussed this. You're basically pulling energy from chemical reactions, and there is a real upper limit to how much you can pull from a given chemical combination. You'd have to go to other technologies -- nuclear, or something completely different (or something completely old, like burning hydrocarbons!) -- to get more energy for a given weight and size.

    Completely off topic (and an indicator of how strange my mind is ...) ... I was intrigued to learn that nitrogen-based chemical explosives are so powerful because of the energy in the nitrogen bonds. When it blows up real good, you're basically releasing that energy. (Hopefully nowhere near where I'm standing.)

    Ergo, I've solved the problem: we just need batteries based on nitrogen. Nitroglycerin, trinitrotoluene, whatever. (But once again, I won't be anywhere near the experiment.) (Yes, I'm just kidding.)
     
  23. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    I wouldn't be too concerned about using what amounts to a pallet jack to lift a couple of suitcase-sized batteries into a locker and connect a cable. I'm sure the cable would have to be of some certified design that would be near-impossible to connect incorrectly or come apart in-flight. It's not in the realm of unfathomable to do, and probably less risk than mis-fueling. However, this whole thing would mean that all EV aircraft manufacturers would have to agree on one or two battery sizes and chemical makeups, which seems less than likely when they don't even like using the same variants of Lycoming or Continental engines.
     
  24. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    This may also translate to things like how to fight a fire (whether on the ground or not), crashworthiness, etc.

    I don’t think a simple wave of the hand solves for those things.
     
  25. Salty

    Salty Final Approach

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    We should go back and look at increasing the energy output of fire. Since all it takes is wanting it and elbow grease, surely we can extract more energy from burning wood. I'm sure any day now we'll double the amount of heat generated by fire if only we tried.

    Of course, this wouldn't satisfy the greenie agenda, but the analogy stands.
     
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  26. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Sure, but that doesn't mean a ton for the line guy shoving universal battery packs into a EV trainer. I mean, sure, go over what to do about a battery fire when you do their fire safety training. Otherwise, what does the lineman care about crashworthiness or in-flight fires? My comment was just stating that EV aircraft manufacturers using a standard battery pack (although unlikely) isn't a particularly hard issue to deal with in regard to swapping battery packs between lessons.
     
  27. GaryM

    GaryM Line Up and Wait

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    Yep, molecular nitrogen (N:::N, that is, triply-bonded) is so very, very stable relative to any other nitrogen compound that every other atom of nitrogen in the universe (if I may anthropomorphize) desperately wants to become part of a nitrogen molecule. They won't truly be happy until they are.

    There are explosives that don't contain nitrogen, but most do. There are structures you can look at and just know how unstable they are based on nitrogen count, modified by oxidation state and maybe ring strain. There are actually academic groups (though not many) working to see how much nitrogen can be crammed into a small explosive molecule. Some amusing write-ups can be seen here https://www.science.org/content/blog-post/things-i-won-t-work-azidoazide-azides-more-less and here https://www.science.org/content/blog-post/things-i-won-t-work-hexanitrohexaazaisowurtzitane

    What is needed is not so much a nitrogen-based battery, but rather a nitrogen-based fuel cell, that can tease the energy out of energetic nitrogen compounds in a controlled fashion, releasing N2 and CO2 and whatever else is needed to balance the equation. I've no idea if that is feasible.
     
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  28. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    The charge time from Pipistrel is conservative, if you read their documentation. They can decrease the charge time as they get more data about longevity of the packs, maximum charge rate vs heat, etc. Cars are already getting close to 15 minute charge times with 350kw rapid chargers that currently exist and that is only increasing with different battery technology. The Velus has a 24kwh battery pack, so if they can achieve a 150kw charge rate that is under 10 minutes. Getting to 350kw and you are fully charged in under 5 minutes. That is faster than getting 100LL.
     
  29. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Uh huh. Wait until the flight school or FBO has to get enough power service to provide 350kW charging to multiple aircraft. Also, 15-20 minute charge times aren't to full capacity, since the last 5-10% of the battery takes longer to recover. Point is, for the next couple of decades this is going to be limited to buzzing around the pattern in a C150-sized aircraft for flight schools. They will need a significant amount of battery tech leaps to even a accommodate a modest XC with reserves, not to mention having to have the infrastructure at the other end to make a return trip. I'm not against the tech, but I realize that aviation is not the strong suit of current battery tech and it will be a LONG ways off (if ever in my lifetime) that a C182 could be replaced by an equivalent Electric Aircraft. It's tough to beat the laws of physics.
     
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  30. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Airports are commercial properties and most have high capacity electrical services running to the property already - think multiple buildings, many hangars, etc. Electrical charging points (including 350kw) are being installed all over the country from McDonalds, to supermarkets, to roadside stands, playgrounds, etc. If a playground can support an electric car charging point (most around me in rural NY have them already), how can it be a hardship for an airport with commercial activities?

    Agreed that the last few percent of charge is slower (generally), Pipistrel already states their charging times from 20% to 95%. So get the charging time to 30 minutes and it takes that long to swap out students, debrief, brief the next student, pee, etc.
     
  31. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    Not sure you understand the cost associated with bringing in that kind of power. We're talking easy six-figures to buy pads/transformers/conduit/etc. not even counting the chargers themselves. Meanwhile most FBOs/flight schools are on a pretty tight budget. It's not just a matter of "the power is already nearby".
     
  32. Matthew Rogers

    Matthew Rogers Ejection Handle Pulled

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    I can guarantee that the sleepy town of Ellenville NY did not pay 100's of thousands of dollars to install a few electric car chargers at a playground. Those are the lower wattage Level 2 chargers, but doing so research, I found prices of around $50k for Level 3 fast charger installation. Many states (those that are trying to move forward) and utilities also have rebates for electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
     
  33. GaryM

    GaryM Line Up and Wait

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    But that in no way lowers the cost...it just spreads it out across more payers, many of whom won't benefit from it.
     
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  34. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    So are you implying that FBOs just need Level 2 charging to achieve these 20-minute charging times? How are you going to simultaneously charge half a dozen trainers so that they're ready to go another dozen laps around the pattern? $50K/ea for Level 3 charger ASSUMING the power is already there at the site (which it won't be, you will need transformers and such which are commonly $30-$60K depending on amperage needs). FBOs don't use large transformers as they have little need for it. You will need the kind of transformers and power supply that manufacturing plants use, only you won't be able to spread the cost among thousands of users or millions of taxpayers. You will have to eat it as a private business. This isn't the stuff of fiction, it's the facts of what things cost in the real world.
     
  35. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I don't see why there can't be a modular standard that would be universal, just like cargotainers (for example). The battery developers could work within that size/connection standard to develop the best batteries possible.
     
  36. Matthew Rogers

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    How can that be - transformers on the scale of a manufacturing plant? There is a set of 5 Tesla superchargers being installed in a diner parking lot in New Paltz, NY. They require the infrastructure on the same scale as a manufacturing plant? Umm, nope. Just a few electricians and some equipment.

    A 200 amp 3 phase service (a common small business supply size - think small woodworking shop) can provide 136kw of power. So we are looking at 300 amp 3 phase service for a fast 150kw charger with plenty to spare. Those kinds of electrical equipment are super common and do not require the cost to be spread out among millions of users.
     
  37. RyanShort1

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    Not to mention, that students will still have to spend time transitioning to aircraft that can actually go on longer cross countries, etc. I predict a net loss of efficiency.
     
  38. SoonerAviator

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    Ah, so an FBO already has those transformers sitting around when the previously only needed single phase 220V? Oh, they don't? Well then, I guess they'll be buying an oil cooled transformer for that 3-phase service then. Shouldn't cost much /sarcasm. I'm not saying they need transformers big enough to run a glass plant. I'm saying that there will be a significant cost to implement it if you want something to push Level 3 charging to several aircraft practically all day, it's going to require infrastructure. That infrastructure isn't cheap and with flight schools often on thin margins it just isn't really in the realm of possibility for most of them any time soon.