Laser-Powered Aircraft on the Horizon
LASERMOTIVE, AN R&D COMPANY specializing in laser power
beaming and winner of the NASA-sponsored 2009 Power
Beaming Competition, has unveiled its blueprint for creating the
first endless power system for unmanned aerial vehicles. The
system would use laser power beaming, the wireless transfer of
energy from one location to another using laser light, to create
an unlimited source of power for unmanned aerial vehicles,
one of the largest growth sectors in the aerospace and defense
industries. “Because laser power beaming enables electric
aircraft to be recharged in flight, it is especially viable for high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles and other
types of aircraft that need power over a long period of time,” said
Tom Nugent, president and co-founder of LaserMotive.
The company, headquartered in Kent, Washington, is
planning to develop a demonstration model of an airborne
vehicle powered by laser before the end of this year. The first
working prototypes of the new system could be available within
as little as 18 months.
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AEROINNOVATIONS highlights developments that have potential to impact the future of aviation. EAA does not necessarily endorse the ideas, products, services, or views stated.
HITS MACH 6!
AIRCRAFT FOR NASA’S
NEXT 25 YEARS
FUTURE OF BATTERIES
IS LITHIUM AIR
THE WAVERIDER X- 51 SCRAMJET
engine, which hit Mach 6 in
late May with a burn duration
of more than three minutes,
has virtually no moving parts.
Launched from under the wing
of a B- 52 at 50,000 feet, the
Waverider used a solid rocket
booster to get up to Mach 4 and
then ignited the scramjet engine
to boost the speed to Mach 6,
setting a record for the longest
AN MIT-LED TEAM HAS developed
two commercial aircraft designs
for the NASA N+ 3 challenge.
This design is estimated to
reduce noise and emissions
while using 70 percent less
fuel. Instead of using a single
fuselage cylinder, the team used
two partial cylinders placed
side by side to create a wider
structure. The designs would
theoretically replace Boeing’s
737- and 777-class aircraft.
CURRENTLY IN INFANCY AT
Argonne National Laboratory,
Lithium-air batteries may be
the future of electric planes
and other vehicles. If theories
are correct, these batteries will
have five to 10 times the energy
of lithium-ion batteries that
are powering today’s electric
cars. Some say lithium-air will
carry only triple the energy of
lithium-ion; others project a
SIKORSKY INNOVATIONS’ Chris
Van Buiten has confirmed the
company is investigating the use
of hybrid and electric engines
for flight. Sikorsky is working
on a “skunk works” style project
dubbed Firefly, which may be a
reference to electric propulsion
technology, according to the
Fairfield County Business Journal.