Some People Will Desperately Claim Anything to Deny Reality and Cling to Obsolete Prejudice.
And here’s an example: Someone named Jason Baker recently wrote a blog at AvWeb titled “Common Sense vs. E- Everything”.
In this blog, Jason asked five stupid questions, each a desperate attempt to pretend that electric powertrains can’t work. This is especially damaging because emissions are so damaging, and zero emissions vehicles are a requirement of stopping ongoing environmental damage… but Jason wants to pretend that electric systems can NOT work, simply so that HE does not have to consider any NEW ways of doing things. That would require absorption of NEW information, which is a thing he does not seem to possess.
Again: He makes no valid points. He’s only tossing out logical fallacies that have no connection to reality. I think these blatant logical fallacies are simply his own pathetic attempts to convince HIMSELF that zero-emissions vehicles can never work, and he is doing this so he can give HIMSELF permission to disregard any new idea, including ideas that can reduce global warming… which he does as the world burns… umm… literally.
So here we go to dispense with his stupid arguments barely disguised as questions:
Q1: Where do we get the lithium for these batteries and at what environmental and human expense?
Answer: From the ground and at the expense of digging.
Q2: Can we shoot non-recyclable batteries into outer space?
Answer: Yes, we can shoot many things into space. Including cars. For fun. But it’s smarter to employ used batteries on the ground to stabilize the power grid during swings in supply and demand. This is called leveling the grid. The lively secondary market for batteries awaits only sufficient volume of used cells.
Q3: Will we be capable of paying constantly increasing electricity bills?
Answer: That depends. Do you pay more than $3 per hour for fuel for your airplane? Because that’s the electricity cost of a Pipistrel Electro. Compare that to fossil fuels. Which is cheaper?
Q4: Will temperatures fall measurably by banning gasoline and fossil-fuel burning engines from primarily personal transportation, while completely ignoring much larger environmental abuses?
Answer: Yes, and who said anything about ignoring other problems?
Q5: Where will we find work for millions of people displaced from their source of income when and if this E-hype continues?
Answer: It’s not hype if it actually displaces millions of jobs, is it? And to answer the question, the jobs will obviously be found in the new electric industry.
So Jasons’ questions all have blatantly obvious answers, but now let’s look at what REALLY matters for electric aviation.
We’ll start with the most critical and limiting factor: The batteries. Batteries store far less energy per pound than jet fuel, and this limits endurance and range compared to fossil fuels… BUT is battery energy density good enough to get a transportation job done?
Tesla has already proven that batteries are good enough for ground transportation. They’ve proven it 900,000 times and counting, in fact.
So that’s fine for DRIVING, but what about the power-intensive world of aviation?
Let’s look at what the batteries talk to when it’s time to spin a prop: Electric motors. As it turns out, electric motors unlock certain secret weapons that Lycomings, Continentals and Pratts have never given us… and THESE are the secret weapons that will help unlock the next level of aviation.
Secret weapon #1: Instant torque. As every Tesla driver–and countless fossil-burners looking at their tail-lights in a drag race–have discovered, electric motors give torque instantly. Helicopters are dogged by their complex, expensive, maintenance-intensive cyclic, collective and anti-torque systems. But drones with e-motors can change their rotor spin so quickly with instant torque that their simple one-piece plastic props can both stabilize and maneuver the craft. Complexity and cost are slashed. I’m currently involved in a flight test program that has tested this in hovering and forward flight on a manned eVTOL that weights 3,600 pounds.. with nothing but one-piece, fixed-pitch props. So this effect is now proven valid up to the weight of a Cirrus SR-22.
Secret weapon #2: 95 percent efficiency. At best, gas-burners run at about 33 percent thermodynamic efficiency, turning only a third of their fossil-fuel energy into power. Electric drive systems, though, run at about 95 percent efficiency, delivering three times the energy to the prop for each unit of energy consumed. This effectively triples the energy on board compared to any gas-burning engine. The gas-burner energy advantage just got cut by a factor of three.
Secret weapon #3: Silence. If you just operate close to the ground only within airport bounds, then the noise of an airplane can usually get a grudging pass from the community: Your noise is largely limited to the airport area. But what if we wanted to fly from the airport to the middle of downtown? Suddenly, the engine and prop noise would be a deal-breaker. Electric motors solve this problem for engine noise, and with proper sizing or gearing, can turn a prop slowly enough to hugely reduce the prop noise as well.
Secret weapon #4: Zero emissions. An obvious benefit for everyone near the airplane… and if that energy comes from a grid fed by solar, wind, or nuclear power, then it’s a benefit for everyone. This is a requirement for community and public acceptance, as it should be.
Bonus secret weapon: Rapidly-improving battery technology.
A gallon of 100LL will be the same next year as it was in 1950.
Batteries, however, have demonstrated that they can carry an airplane about 100 miles (airplanes under construction now may double that)… with energy density improving at about 7 percent per year.
This is a race fossil fuels can only lose and here’s how fast they’ll lose it: Take 100 or 200 nautical miles and compound it at 7 percent interest. As that number grows over time, it will displace fossil-fuel airplanes for FLIGHT MISSIONS OF THAT RANGE OR LESS. This point has already been passed for almost all uses of cars… my wife’s Tesla goes 390 miles on a charge, much further than 100% our families’ ground-based missions.
So, we have a propulsion system with a quartet of new characteristics and a steady upwards push in battery capability. The REAL question is: Where can that take us?
With a motor that provides instant torque, we have vertical takeoff and landing flight with almost no moving parts, allowing affordable access to… everywhere.
With a motor running at 95% efficiency, we turn almost all of our energy into power-at-the prop: Not noise and heat.
With a motor that makes little noise and no pollution, we have an aircraft that will have public acceptance at more places than just… airports.
So we have a powertrain that enables affordable, quiet, zero-emissions, politically acceptable three-dimensional access to almost any location within an (initially short) radius that increases by about 7 percent per year.
Will a new market be unlocked by that capability?
Is there a new market that is enabled by affordable, efficient, quiet, zero-emissions, AIRPORT-INDEPENDENT, short-range, three-dimensional, travel above traffic?
You see, the electric airplane doesn’t HAVE to weight a million pounds and hurtle across the Atlantic Ocean at Mach 0.85 to work…. it just has to get you from LaGuardia to Central park in 5 minutes.
And it will.
And then it will do more… about 7% more each year.