What About Electric Aircraft?

The current state of battery technology, from this link at the clean energy institute:

They have one of the highest energy densities of any battery technology today (100-265 Wh/kg or 250-670 Wh/L).

Clean Energy Institute

Finally, despite the high energy density of Li-ion compared to other kinds of batteries, they are still around a hundred times less energy dense than gasoline (which contains 12,700 Wh/kg by mass or 8760 Wh/L by volume).

Clean Energy Institute

The energy required to move an aircraft is proportional to its weight. More weight, more drag, more energy needed. You want the lightest strongest materials and the lightest strongest fuel for best results. The 100X higher weight per Watt-Hour means that AOC’s dream of the electric F-35 is not going to happen any time soon. It also means this electric plane, is just stupid.

I’ve found many on various comment threads think this “opinion” is anti-progress. It is hardly an opinion, it is just another flat fact of physics that the overly feeling-endowed masses don’t understand. Batteries of energy densities approaching hydrocarbons are not even hypothetically in development. Using history as a predictor of the future, like the windmill and solar panel, that won’t stop people from trying anyway.

Argonne National Laboratory says the energy density of battery powered vehicles will not be the same as gasoline powered vehicles until some time in the far distant future. Right now the lab people say gasoline is 100 times more energy-dense than a battery.

Link here

Not very smart to think this can ever work for air travel.

Interestingly, I’m considering making an electric drone for human use anyway. Just cause it sounds like fun. The device would be useless for travel outside of a back yard.

5 thoughts on “What About Electric Aircraft?

  1. “Davis said his company needs still-to-be-developed advances in battery technology to make Eviation’s planes commercially viable.”

    If these battery advances are ‘still to be developed’ we’ll probably have pocket fusion reactors before a battery powered plane. Still, perhaps they learned a few things about how to engineer a lighter aircraft…

  2. we’ll probably have pocket fusion reactors before a battery-powered plane

    I’m still rooting for ethanol fuel cells.

    We (stupidly) make a bunch of ethanol right now, to burn in more-or-less traditional IC engines. Ethanol is liquid, so many tanks and pipes and hoses can be used — or replaced in the same places — we now store and move gasoline. The advantages of electrical fuel cells are less of the chemistry goes toward heat or friction, and more to the desired goal of electricity.

    1. They also work pretty well.

      We can’t actually grow enough ethanol for everything though. Photosynthesis is very inefficient.

        1. The problem is that photosynthesis is extremely low efficiency, 3% for corn (by memory)? The max storage efficiency of photosynthesis is like 8 percent. This means we have to completely cover huge fractions of the country to make any dent. Dozens of states?

          Really we should just burn everything we find while we develop nuclear power. Biofuel is a feel-good in my mind. There has been zero recorded/measured climate damage from fossil fuel so why not.

          If we used the byproducts of food crops for fuel, I wouldn’t mind that but we are using actual food-producing space to make fuel in the most economically expensive (read damaging) and functionless manner.

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