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June 29, 2007



Biofuel may be good for now but electric is much better. Nikola Tesla had an electric turbine in the early 1900's that was >95% efficient. It's design is found in many pumps today. With the emerging light weight high powered fast recharge batteries both range and charging are no longer a problem. In-flight charging could be done via charging cable from a fuel cell tanker. Stealth could be greatly enhanced without jet fuel noise! Whine of turbine would probably still be fairly loud.


In the distant future, batteries may have the energy density to take an Airbus over the atlantic, but even the most advanced batteries today aren't even close.

The highest energy batteries today that I know of use lithium-sulphur chemistry. more than 400 wh/kg has been achieved in real products and it's still improving.

That's good energy density for UAV's and perhaps even ultralights but nowhere close to commercial long distance aviation. It's impractical and expensive to recharge the batteries in-flight so many times.

Aviation is going to be stuck with chemical fuels for a long time to come. Not so bad, only a small part of liquid fuels demand comes from aviation. Jets can also be improved so that they're much less noisy.
And intracontinental travel could mostly be done by high speed trains, so there would be even less liquid fuel demand from aviation.

The automotive sector is where the biggest gains can be made, and batteries energy density is more than enough for a good SPHEV. Besides high cost, reliability (over several years) is the only thing left that I'm concerned about.


Jet A energy density = 44 MJ/kg.
Li ion battery energy density = 1.4 MJ/kg.
And this Li ion energy density is the result of decades of R&D. ICE performance is still improving faster than battery performance. EVs will never surpass ICEVs burning either petrofuels or biofuels, on the ground or in the air.


Yes that is correct. But:
1. SPHEV requires only a modest plug-in range, which means less energy storage.
2. Electric drivetrains are far more energy efficient than ICE drivetrains will ever get, which means even less energy storage is needed.
3. 100 kg more or less isn't going to be a problem for most cars, especially when the weight is positioned low and is evenly distributed over the car.
4. You can still have an ICE as a genset. Working @ peak efficiency all the time and with fewer losses in the drivetrain too.

Li-ion isn't the ultimate energy storage tech, in the future higher energy storage will be available. It may still be more interesting to use hydrocarbon fuels for commercial aviation though.

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