Articles Posted in the Business, Renewable energy category

Solar-powered flight beats record

August 25, 2008
Posted in Business, Renewable energy

A solar-powered aircraft, the QinetiQ Zephyr, has reportedly broken the official world record for unmanned flight. It flew for 82 hours 37 minutes, exceeding the 30 hours 24 minutes set by Global Hawk in 2001, QinetiQ says.

The Zephyr is a fragile-looking ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre aircraft that is launched by hand. “By day it flies on solar power generated by amorphous silicon solar arrays no thicker than sheets of paper that cover the aircraft’s wings. By night it is powered by rechargeable lithium-sulphur batteries, which are recharged during the day using solar power,” QinetiQ says in a press release.

The flight trial took place at the end of July over the Sonoran Desert in the United States. It was flown via satellite communications to a maximum altitude of more than 60,000ft.

The Zephyr, which is officially known as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), was designed for military use but it looks like it could have civilian applications.

Via :: Crave

Boeing tests manned hydrogen-powered plane

April 7, 2008
Posted in Renewable energy, Transport

A manned hydrogen-powered plane has made three successful test flights in Spain, the BBC reports. The small propeller-driven craft was developed by Boeing. This was the first flight to have a human pilot on board.

According to the BBC, Boeing said it did not believe fuel cells could be the primary power source for large passenger aircraft. But it could be used as a secondary source of energy for large planes, according to Nieves Lapena, the engineer responsible for the test flights, but this may take some time to develop – about 20 years.

The hydrogen fuel cells combine oxygen and hydrogen to produce electricity to power the plane’s propellors. The only exhaust products are heat and water, the report says.

See a video clip of the plane in flight on the BBC website

News in brief

March 17, 2008
Posted in Green News

BEACH BUMMER – Four of Durban’s swimming beaches have lost their “blue flag” status because of unacceptable faecal pollution readings, Sapa reports. This comes less than a week before the start of the Easter school holidays. The blue flag is an “eco-label” awarded by independent non-profit organisation Foundation for Environmental Education.

BIG GAME SPENDERS – Dubai World, the investment arm of the government of Dubai, has bought into three South African game reserves for an undisclosed amount – Shamwari (Eastern Cape), Sanbona Wildlife Reserve (in the Western Cape) and Jock Safari Lodge (near the Kruger National Park) – Business Day reports. Dubai World acquired Cape Town’s Victoria and Alfred Water Front in 2006.

ANOTHER BIOFUELLED BOEING – American carrier Continental Airlines, Boeing and GE Aviation have announced plans to conduct a biofuels demonstration flight early next year using a Boeing Next-Generation 737. Last month a Virgin Atlantic Boeing flew from London to Amsterdam on a biofuel mix. The three companies are looking identify sustainable fuel sources that don’t impact food crops, water resources or contribute to deforestation, and which can be produced in sufficient quantities. Read more at EnergyDaily

CLOSING PRICE – Think nuclear power stations are expensive to build? Well decommissioning them doesn’t appear to be cheap either. Britain’s Sellafield nuclear site is expected to cost billions of pounds to decommission. At present, a number of consortia are at bidding for a 20-billion pound (about R320-billion) decommissioning contract, the Observer reports. According to Britian’s Independent, the Sellafield site’s main activity over the past few decades has been reprocessing used reactor fuel, separting out plutonium and uranium from nuclear waste. The Thorp reprocessing plant will reportedly close around 2011 when its contracts run out.

Greens unmoved by Branson’s biofuel flight

February 27, 2008
Posted in Transport

virgin-boeingnew.jpgVirgin Atlantic’s first commercial biofuel flight this week failed to impress Britain’s environmentalists. Some even dismissed it as a “nonsensical” publicity stunt. The Boeing 747 flew from London to Amsterdam using a 20 percent biofuel mix of coconut and babassu oil in one of its four fuel tanks

Climate change campaigners don’t rate biofuels highly as an option to combat climate change. One group suggested that curbing the growth in the number of flights would be a more effective measure. Aviation is one of the fastest growing contributors to carbon emissions and experts forecast that airlines will account for 5 percent of global warming gases in 2050,” the Independent reports.

Richard Branson, the head of Virgin Atlantic, said that the oils used to make the biofuel for this week’s flight were from existing rainforest and derelict plantations, and not from food crops or from a source that caused deforestation. He also said that this biofuel would not be the fuel used in future, which was more likely to be made from an algae, possible from sewage plants.

Airbus has also been testing alternative fuels, although not biofuels. On February 1 the aircraft manufacturer staged the first test flight by a commercial aircraft using a synthetic liquid fuel processed from natural gas. An A380 superjumbo flew from Bristol in the UK to Toulouse, as part of a programme to assess the environmental impact of alternative fuels, the Financial Times reports.

Although gas to liquid fuel reportedly offers only small benefits in terms of carbon dioxide emissions, it is suphur-free and offers significant gains in terms of local air quality, the report says.

Airbus is working with Shell and Rolls-Royce on the test programme.

Jet flies on cooking oil

December 1, 2007
Posted in Transport

biojet.jpgAn unmodified jet has made history by flying for 37 minutes and to height of 5,000m using only canola oil refined into biodiesel as fuel, Scientific American reports.

The 1968 L-29 Czechoslovakian is one of the few planes capable of burning biodiesel at present because it has a built-in fuel warming system, the reports says. Biodiesel can gel at cooler temperatures.

The report said that Doug Rodante, president of Green Flight International, the US company that tested the fuel for the biodiesel flight, did not think that 100-percent biofuel was the answer, but he added that a 20 percent jet fuel-biofuel mix could be implemented “with no modifications in other aircraft”.

Adding 20 percent biodiesel to the jet fuel mix could reduce carbon emissions by 50 percent, a physicist who worked on the project said.

Read the full story on Scientific American