Author Topic: Technologies that will shape the future of aviation and space exploration  (Read 43101 times)

Offline RanulfC

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>some snipage involved< :)

There are a multitude of ways to deal with the accessibility/maintainability issue and aircraft designers now have decades of experience with what works and what doesn't. Probably the most ingenious I've seen is engine removal on the Sabre jet: the entire tail section comes off.

I agree with the 'ingeniousness' of the way they did the Sabre, and IIRC the Starfighter was pretty much the same way as it was built around the engine. There has been a great deal of experience gained, which is why accessibility/maintainability are in fact now part of the design criteria :)

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EDIT:  It's important to also note that even with podded engines on (sub-sonic) commercial airliners and bombers, they don't take the entire 'pod' off to change out the engine.  The engine 'pod' is used for reasons other than pure maintenance.

Well it's only one reason and I noted that I think, but it was actually a big reason :) No we don't drop the whole "pod" but all that's left between engine changes is a metal shell and some loose (but capped and bagged! :) ) connections :)

The thing with the pod is that you simply unlatch and raise the whole side of the 'pod' and you have access to the whole engine instantly. Where as buried you have to open access panels, (usually a lot of them) and are then restricted to working INSIDE those areas unless you pull the engine fully.

But yes we've learned enough to make even that much less of a chore than it was in early jet aircraft.

Randy
From The Amazing Catstronaut on the Black Arrow LV:
British physics, old chap. It's undignified to belch flames and effluvia all over the pad, what. A true gentlemen's orbital conveyance lifts itself into the air unostentatiously, with the minimum of spectacle and a modicum of grace. Not like our American cousins' launch vehicles, eh?

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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It shows that low carbon content of the atmosphere is not an insurmountable barrier, the trick is to use a foliated high surface absorption membrane and rely on ambient air movement rather then large air handlers using fans, that is basically what plant leaves are.
You need a relatively large area of plants to generate a relatively moderate amount hydrocarbons per unit of time. Again, you need 1 ton of air for 400 grams of CO2 and this process combines carbon monoxide and hydrogen from water. Carbon Monoxide would only be about 250 grams per ton of air. So even less.
You will need a large area and a/or lot of time for this to work. I think it may make sense when you capture the exhaust from factories or caloric power plants, but that might depend on the situation.

Wrong, do some research next time, 4 percent of oil is turned into plastics, specifically liquids associated with natural gasses are very popular for plastics, and plastic consumption is huge and continues to rise even as the transport fuel uses for oil are starting to level off and be supplanted by electrification.  If fossil fuel usage is to cease we would certainly need a replacement for plastics as well as the wider petrol-chemical industries feed-stocks.
I did and I cant remember where I got the 1% figure from. Yours appears to be more correct. Either way, it is not a major problem compared to just burning hydrocarbons.

Offline CameronD

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Wrong, do some research next time, 4 percent of oil is turned into plastics, specifically liquids associated with natural gasses are very popular for plastics, and plastic consumption is huge and continues to rise even as the transport fuel uses for oil are starting to level off and be supplanted by electrification.  If fossil fuel usage is to cease we would certainly need a replacement for plastics as well as the wider petrol-chemical industries feed-stocks.
I did and I cant remember where I got the 1% figure from. Yours appears to be more correct. Either way, it is not a major problem compared to just burning hydrocarbons.

Given the preponderance of plastic world-wide, it'd be interesting to know if it's possible to convert CO2 (or 'greenhouse gases' generally) directly into acrylates, styrenes or other raw materials for plastics production.  I imagine anyone who came up with that tech would make a lot of money!!
 
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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Wrong, do some research next time, 4 percent of oil is turned into plastics, specifically liquids associated with natural gasses are very popular for plastics, and plastic consumption is huge and continues to rise even as the transport fuel uses for oil are starting to level off and be supplanted by electrification.  If fossil fuel usage is to cease we would certainly need a replacement for plastics as well as the wider petrol-chemical industries feed-stocks.
I did and I cant remember where I got the 1% figure from. Yours appears to be more correct. Either way, it is not a major problem compared to just burning hydrocarbons.

Given the preponderance of plastic world-wide, it'd be interesting to know if it's possible to convert CO2 (or 'greenhouse gases' generally) directly into acrylates, styrenes or other raw materials for plastics production.  I imagine anyone who came up with that tech would make a lot of money!!
 
I saw something about that. Critics of the concept are actually using the same arguments, I just used earlier.

Online Robotbeat

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NASA just awarded SBIRs for converting ISRU products (oxygen, methane, hydrogen, water, CO2, etc) into plastics. And since plastics contain carbon, that means from CO2 on Mars.

Here are two of them:
http://sbir.nasa.gov/SBIR/abstracts/16/sbir/phase1/SBIR-16-1-H1.01-8453.html
PROPOSAL TITLE:   ISP3: In-Situ Printing Plastic Production System for Space Additive Manufacturing


and

http://sbir.nasa.gov/SBIR/abstracts/16/sbir/phase1/SBIR-16-1-H1.01-8191.html
PROPOSAL TITLE:   Compact In-Situ Polyethylene Production from Carbon Dioxide
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Online Robotbeat

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For aviation, the single new technology that will shape the future of aviation is improved lithium batteries.

Particularly lithium-air, which (along with electricity's high efficiency and other things) can allow electric flight for just as long as current jet liners. And at the same speeds. And potentially /faster/ speeds than current airliners.

Nearer term, really good lithium-ion and lithium-sulfur.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline TrevorMonty

Meh, at 0.04% CO2 in the atmosphere, you need to move one ton of air (or more than 800 m3) for 400 grams of CO2. So you are unlikely to get any relevant amount of fuel out of this unless you move tonnes of air around.
Seems to me like there could be much better ways to use that solar energy than for that.
All Horticulture relies on making money off this principle though. :)...
This.
I think you are right, electric aircraft are future and it is totally depended on battery technology.
First market will be small aircraft (<50 seat ) for short haul (<300km). Low operational costs are critical here as they are competing against ground transport quite often.  It is not just fuel costs savings but also service costs, electric engines and batteries should be almost maintenance free compared to turboprop engine. Batteries will need replacing every few years but battery improvement will result in more range or payload.
For aviation, the single new technology that will shape the future of aviation is improved lithium batteries.

Particularly lithium-air, which (along with electricity's high efficiency and other things) can allow electric flight for just as long as current jet liners. And at the same speeds. And potentially /faster/ speeds than current airliners.

Nearer term, really good lithium-ion and lithium-sulfur.

Online Robotbeat

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By the way, ISS's ECLSS system works by removing CO2 from the cabin air. It actually produces methane from it. The methane is dumped overboard (which sounds dumb, but the whole point is to recover some of the oxygen atoms from the CO2 in the form of water).

Removing CO2 from the air is a real possibility.

But use it to make rocket fuel, not aircraft fuel. Aircraft should just use really, really good batteries.
Chris  Whoever loves correction loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.

To the maximum extent practicable, the Federal Government shall plan missions to accommodate the space transportation services capabilities of United States commercial providers. US law http://goo.gl/YZYNt0

Offline spacenut

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I thought at one time, the Navy was experimenting with getting CO2 out of the ocean water.  There is more CO2 in the top 6' of ocean water than in the air.  They were going to make jet fuel from the CO2 and water using excess nuclear power of the aircraft carrier.  I think they can produce double the amount of power the ship needs for redundancy.  So the excess power can make natural gas first, then add to the molecular chain to make jet fuel.  This would make the carriers self sufficient except for food. 

The CO2 in Martian atmosphere will need water to make the CH4 for rocket fuel, and O2.  They may need a source of water on Mars.  The equipment used by the Navy could be carried to Mars for fuel production. 

Offline Elmar Moelzer

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NASA just awarded SBIRs for converting ISRU products (oxygen, methane, hydrogen, water, CO2, etc) into plastics. And since plastics contain carbon, that means from CO2 on Mars.

Here are two of them:
http://sbir.nasa.gov/SBIR/abstracts/16/sbir/phase1/SBIR-16-1-H1.01-8453.html
PROPOSAL TITLE:   ISP3: In-Situ Printing Plastic Production System for Space Additive Manufacturing


and

http://sbir.nasa.gov/SBIR/abstracts/16/sbir/phase1/SBIR-16-1-H1.01-8191.html
PROPOSAL TITLE:   Compact In-Situ Polyethylene Production from Carbon Dioxide
Mars is of course a different matter all together. There is no other source of hydrocarbons there (other than some methane). Bringing it over would cost too much. So of course you need to produce it there.
There is no alternative. It will take a long time though to get relatively moderate amounts of plastic that way. But then all metrics are somehow different anyway when it comes to mars.

For aviation, the single new technology that will shape the future of aviation is improved lithium batteries.

Particularly lithium-air, which (along with electricity's high efficiency and other things) can allow electric flight for just as long as current jet liners. And at the same speeds. And potentially /faster/ speeds than current airliners.

Nearer term, really good lithium-ion and lithium-sulfur.
I agree with you on that one. Better batteries would be an enabling technology for many things related to aerospace. Depending on energy and power density, it might affect the way we do spaceflight too.

Offline CameronD

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I agree with you on that one. Better batteries would be an enabling technology for many things related to aerospace. Depending on energy and power density, it might affect the way we do spaceflight too.

I'd like to agree with you on that one - but unfortunately, I don't. :)

There's more to an electric propulsion system than just batteries:  There's the advanced ultra-light-weight non-existent high-temperature superconductors you need to supply the battery power to the engines and then there's the engines themselves.  As complex as it is, unless the entire propulsion system is as good or better than current highly-efficient, highly-advanced, extremely-bloody-clever, jet engine/pneumatics technologies, it simply isn't going to fly.. (pun intended).
 

« Last Edit: 08/28/2016 10:53 PM by CameronD »
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Offline Patchouli

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I'd like to agree with you on that one - but unfortunately, I don't. :)

There's more to an electric propulsion system than just batteries:  There's the advanced ultra-light-weight non-existent high-temperature superconductors you need to supply the battery power to the engines and then there's the engines themselves.  As complex as it is, unless the entire propulsion system is as good or better than current highly-efficient, highly-advanced, extremely-bloody-clever, jet engine/pneumatics technologies, it simply isn't going to fly.. (pun intended).
 




Agreed battery powered airliners are not going to happen anytime soon if ever.
We might be see hypersonic transport long before we see a fully electric airliner.

Civil aviation might be able to benefit from hybrid electric technology on certain classes of aircraft.

I also consider fully electric long haul trucks impractical as well though these can benefit from series hybrid technology like what's found on the Chevy Volt.

« Last Edit: 08/28/2016 11:11 PM by Patchouli »

Offline CameronD

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Civil aviation might be able to benefit from hybrid electric technology on certain classes of aircraft.

It already does.  Here's a write-up on the latest tech for GA aircraft as displayed at last year's Paris air show:

http://aviationweek.com/paris-air-show-2015/hybrid-electric-propulsion-rotax
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Online Robotbeat

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I'd like to agree with you on that one - but unfortunately, I don't. :)

There's more to an electric propulsion system than just batteries:  There's the advanced ultra-light-weight non-existent high-temperature superconductors you need to supply the battery power to the engines and then there's the engines themselves.  As complex as it is, unless the entire propulsion system is as good or better than current highly-efficient, highly-advanced, extremely-bloody-clever, jet engine/pneumatics technologies, it simply isn't going to fly.. (pun intended).
 




Agreed battery powered airliners are not going to happen anytime soon if ever.
We might be see hypersonic transport long before we see a fully electric airliner.

Civil aviation might be able to benefit from hybrid electric technology on certain classes of aircraft.

I also consider fully electric long haul trucks impractical as well though these can benefit from series hybrid technology like what's found on the Chevy Volt.
Fully electric airliners are way easier than hypersonic transport.

Fully electric long haul trucks are being designed and built by Tesla right now. Provided you can have a big enough battery and have good enough charging infrastructure, there's absolutely no reason fully electric long-haul trucks would be impractical. In fact, due to their being driven a lot more than commuter vehicles, the potential for cost reduction is greater.
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Online Asteroza

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I'd like to agree with you on that one - but unfortunately, I don't. :)

There's more to an electric propulsion system than just batteries:  There's the advanced ultra-light-weight non-existent high-temperature superconductors you need to supply the battery power to the engines and then there's the engines themselves.  As complex as it is, unless the entire propulsion system is as good or better than current highly-efficient, highly-advanced, extremely-bloody-clever, jet engine/pneumatics technologies, it simply isn't going to fly.. (pun intended).
 




Agreed battery powered airliners are not going to happen anytime soon if ever.
We might be see hypersonic transport long before we see a fully electric airliner.

Civil aviation might be able to benefit from hybrid electric technology on certain classes of aircraft.

I also consider fully electric long haul trucks impractical as well though these can benefit from series hybrid technology like what's found on the Chevy Volt.
Fully electric airliners are way easier than hypersonic transport.

Fully electric long haul trucks are being designed and built by Tesla right now. Provided you can have a big enough battery and have good enough charging infrastructure, there's absolutely no reason fully electric long-haul trucks would be impractical. In fact, due to their being driven a lot more than commuter vehicles, the potential for cost reduction is greater.

Perhaps a differentiation should be made here. Electric motor propulsion with some sort of buffer/surge battery is likely on a number of transportation fronts. Whether the bulk energy for those electric motors comes from batteries or a generator onboard is a different story.

Tesla doing a long haul battery only EV semi is somewhat unrealistic due to not only the required energy storage onboard, but the lack of recharge time (as a cargo carrier not in motion is not making money) and the low probability of swappable batteries drags you down. Adding batteries to trailer under the cargo deck, while physically possible and bypassing the recharge at rest problem, increases trailer weight, subtracting cargo load due to axle load or vehicle gross weight limits by law.  Short range semis, like those used near sea ports, that has opportunities for all battery setups, as you can concentrate your recharger,battery swap facilities, cutting capital costs for fleet operators.

Now Nikola has the right idea, with a microturbine generator (provided they don't try to load follow too much). The same can be said for aircraft, where the tailcone APU becomes a much larger prime mover, to provide exhaust gases to fill in the drag hole of the tail and provide electricity to either conventional motors to conventional propellers (resembling ultrafan/open rotor/turboprop designs), or a distributed electric propulsion system. Even in conventional looking turbofan engines, there have been proposals to effectively go shaftless, using a turbine rotor generator to drive separate compressor motors and counterrotating fan motors (as an evolution beyond the current geared turbofans that are only now becoming reality).


Now for something completely different, there was an interesting (but probably impractical) concept for a plasma combustor engine with some kind of MHD accelerator stage (see Hypermach and their S-MAGJET, which is similar in some ways to the older RIME rocket engine design). With UV lasers assisting ionization MHD acceleration may possible.

Another unusual type is remote beaming of power, though for most purposes laser thermal from space seems the most practical. How one uses the heat without melting everything is tough though, though if one assumes liquid methane as the working fluid/propellant rather than compressed air, some of the problems go away.

Online Robotbeat

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Tesla doing a fully electric production sedan that can travel 315 miles between charges and do 0-60 in 2.5s is also not "realistic," but it happened.

Battery technology is already much more advanced that most people in this realm realize. Batteries are still considered second-class.

Which is why the electric airliner will catch those folk (who should know better) by surprise. Again. That's why I think even better batteries will dramatically shape the future of aviation.

Also, large, human-scale surface vehicles will be basically exclusively battery-powered.
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Offline Lar

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let's not go too far down the surface transport discussion road, please.
"I think it would be great to be born on Earth and to die on Mars. Just hopefully not at the point of impact." -Elon Musk
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Offline CameronD

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Battery technology is already much more advanced that most people in this realm realize. Batteries are still considered second-class.

Which is why the electric airliner will catch those folk (who should know better) by surprise. Again. That's why I think even better batteries will dramatically shape the future of aviation.

Keeping this discussion on-topic..  ;)

Whilst I've no doubt battery technology is already well advanced, as I pointed out earlier, the real issue for aviation applications is getting the power (especially megawatts of take-off power!) out of the battery to somewhere it can be useful without losing most of it in the process. ..and ISTM they have yet to work that problem out.

..and until they get a good deal lighter, yes, batteries will always be considered second-class.

« Last Edit: 08/30/2016 04:53 AM by CameronD »
With sufficient thrust, pigs fly just fine - however, this is not necessarily a good idea. It is hard to be sure where they are
going to land, and it could be dangerous sitting under them as they fly overhead.

Online Asteroza

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UAV drop "tank" batteries that can return to an airport after doing a BATO might work if commercial aviation can stand allowing drop "tankage", though I would imagine they would be much more amenable to an electric towplane. That said, there has been a serious proposal for an around-the-world record using UAV battery packs to link up with a long range electric flyer periodically before being dropped for a fresh pack.

Online Asteroza

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For airport takeoff boost, how sane is it to do short range power beaming?

Electric - short range microwave beaming to a rectenna somewhere on the tail

Thermal - microwave/laser beam on a working fluid absorber in the tail, feeding an externally heated (air) turbine.

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