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  #1  
Old 01-24-2021, 10:01 AM
ssokol ssokol is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Cupertino, California
Posts: 119
Default EV-6A: A Thought Experiment

This morning I read yet another article in the aviation trades talking about the failure to find a drop-in replacement for 100LL. And once again, my mind went immediately to the impractical but enticing answer: forget internal combustion - I want an electric airplane.

Electrification would seem to be the magic bullet: very few moving parts, lower operating costs, quieter operation, consistent power at any altitude, no emissions, no carbon monoxide. Electric aviation has the potential to keep GA aircraft flying long after the last drop of 100LL is burned.

Before anyone jumps all of over me for being unrealistic - yes, weíre not there yet: energy density in batteries is still too low for XC ops; lithium ion batteries are prone to thermal runaway events and other dangers; the FAA is running decades behind the state of the art...

All that said, isnít it still fun to think about? I for one hope to live long enough to enjoy a $25 hamburger while my RV-22 is parked outside, quickly charging.

So on to the thought experiment:

What would be required to eletrificate my RV-6A?

Assume for the sake of this game that the two wing tanks are replaced with power modules which can be replaced with better power modules as technology improves. For the sake of weight and balance, assume that the tanks remain at about 120 pounds / 54 Kg regardless of whatís in there: lithium ion batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, dilithum crystals, arc reactors, etc.

Is there a DC electric motor / controller system on the market that can produce the same 160 HP as my current IO-320 at (or preferably well below) the same cost?

If not, what would it take to produce a motor / controller system that generates 160 HP at 2700 RPM? Is this ďrocket scienceĒ level stuff, or something that could be designed and built by a startup (or some dude in a garage)?

Do I need a full 160 HP, or will the lack of parasitic accessories (alternator, magneto, oil pump, fuel pump) allow me to operate with less?

If we rip out the old Lycosaurus and all its friends and replace it with a motor and controller setup that weighs 1/2 as much, how do we fix the W/B? More batteries up front? Extend the nose?

Do we need to provide cooling for the motor? For the motor controller? For the battery packs?

What other issues are there hiding in the weeds?
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  #2  
Old 01-24-2021, 10:16 AM
rocketman1988 rocketman1988 is offline
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Sunman, IN
Posts: 2,431
Default Electric

It is coming, no doubt. I follow some other sites related to this tech and recently I saw an electric motor that Yamaha has that is 150kw which is about 200 HP. The motors and controllers are available; it is the batteries that are still the limiting factor. CG issues can be dealt with; charging and cooling issues remain. Cost is a bit problematic at this point, unless you want to find a wrecked Tesla and and scavenge the batteries. Even then, you would need to create a custom pack from those used batteries and it would likely be relatively high voltage DC...accideny shorting it while in fabrication would be a sight to behold.

I think it is definitely possible for someone who wants to build, tinker, and push the envelope. Not so much for those who just want to fly...

Might be a retirement project for me!
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  #3  
Old 01-24-2021, 11:45 AM
zolotiyeruki zolotiyeruki is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2020
Location: Oswego, IL
Posts: 15
Default

rocketman1988 is 100% correct--the motors and drivers exist. That part of the equation has been thoroughly solved by the good folks in the automotive industry. The issue really comes down to energy storage, and batteries aren't there yet. And the same issues faced by EVs will apply just as much to aviation--speed of charge, range, cost, etc.

Unless/until battery technology progresses to the point where it has a similar energy density to fuel, I'd love to see someone come up with a fuel cell system for GA. Fast fill-up times, long range, better efficiency, less cooling drag, etc.
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  #4  
Old 01-24-2021, 03:32 PM
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Tankerpilot75 Tankerpilot75 is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
Posts: 627
Default

Just buy and fill the wings up with EarthX batteries.
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  #5  
Old 01-24-2021, 04:03 PM
tjo tjo is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: La Center,wa
Posts: 227
Default

There is no rocket science here, it is all pretty easy and has been for a long time. Everything is better about an electric drive. The problem is, and always has been, energy storage. If you can find a battery cheap enough and light enough, it is a no brainer. And we are not yet even close to cheap enough and light enough for an airplane.

Tim
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  #6  
Old 01-25-2021, 12:31 AM
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rv8ch rv8ch is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: LSGY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tjo View Post
There is no rocket science here, it is all pretty easy and has been for a long time. Everything is better about an electric drive. The problem is, and always has been, energy storage. If you can find a battery cheap enough and light enough, it is a no brainer. And we are not yet even close to cheap enough and light enough for an airplane.

Tim
Today, you can (technically) get enough battery energy density to make very short flights in an RV with a 200hp motor, so we're only one major battery technology breakthrough away from fully electric flight. Thankfully lots of people are looking into this for applications much more lucrative than aviation.
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  #7  
Old 01-25-2021, 06:16 AM
salty salty is online now
 
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Location: FL
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rv8ch View Post
Today, you can (technically) get enough battery energy density to make very short flights in an RV with a 200hp motor, so we're only one major battery technology breakthrough away from fully electric flight.
This statement has been true for about 25 years. But Iím sure itíll happen any day now.
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  #8  
Old 01-25-2021, 06:32 AM
Skysailor Skysailor is offline
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Atlanta, GA
Posts: 267
Default There are emissions

Electric vehicles produce carbon emissions but they do it remotely. Generating and transmitting the electricity to charge your electric vehicle is the reason. Solar and wind simply do no produce affordable power in sufficient quantities to be a viable source yet. Nuclear power generation can but with another set of issues.
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  #9  
Old 01-25-2021, 06:56 AM
Desert Rat Desert Rat is online now
 
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: 50-50 Wichita KS & Scottsdale AZ
Posts: 561
Default

Seems to me that if battery technology ever makes it practical, that it would be better to do it via a clean sheet design, or at least a major overhaul of the front end of whatever airframe you're using.

I had an A&P instructor decades ago that conceptualized a power plant in the fuselage driving props via hydraulic motors. His idea was that you could put the power plant (whether dyno-juice or electric) pretty much anywhere for w&b + aerodynamic reasons, and that hydraulic motors are so small for the available torque that you could do a familiar wing mounted prop twin with essentially no conventional engine nacelles.

A physically smaller electric motor would allow for a radically different cowl setup, so you could likely have an airplane thats much aerodynamically cleaner up front. Obviously at some point it has to get fat enough for a cockpit, but the pointy end could get much pointier, and you could likely get the same performance out of less h.p. because of the resulting drag improvements.

Interesting to think about, but since I'm 54, I honestly doubt if it will become anything other than a novelty in my remaining flying years. Some of the younger guys out here, sure, I hope you see it widespread and get your $25 hamburger.
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  #10  
Old 01-25-2021, 08:08 AM
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rv8ch rv8ch is offline
 
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Location: LSGY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salty View Post
This statement has been true for about 25 years. But Iím sure itíll happen any day now.
Salty! and true. When I was a kid in the 70s we were sure we'd have flying cars before 1999. Not sure how they were supposed to be powered - I should have been paying more attention in school.

No doubt dead dinos are amazingly energy dense.

Look at the solar impulse - they kind of proved the concept of an electric aircraft - now it's up to the rest of us to take that work and run with it.

https://aroundtheworld.solarimpulse.com/

Some of the guys that built that are on this forum building RVs - I'm sure that they can chime in with their views.
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