Biofuel News Roundup

I am a big fan of bio-fuels for a number of reasons. It allows new and smaller players to enter the energy industry saturated by Big Oil and government-owned corporations. Bio-fuels can be manufactured by simple technologies by almost anyone. It even allows one to live off the grid. If bio-fuels become commercially viable, petroleum based fuels will have face healthy competition and consumers will have more choice. And so on. Here is a round up of recent news relating to bio-fuels.

News story 1: http://video.forbes.com/fvn/tech/first-biofuel-powered-transatlantic-flight

News story 2: http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/06/engineering-a-cleaner-way-to-fly?cmpid=BioNL-Tuesday-June28-2011

News story 3: http://www.asdnews.com/news/37122/Boeing,_Embraer_and_IDB_to_Fund_Sustainability_Analysis_of_Producing_Amyris_Renewable_Jet_Fuels_from_Sugarcane.htm

News story 4: http://www.asdnews.com/news/37046/Mozambique_sends_first_biofuel_export_to_German_airliner.htm

News story 5: http://www.collegian.com/index.php/article/2011/06/us_military_to_buy_affordable_homegrown_jet_biofuels

News story 6: http://www.nytimes.com/cwire/2011/01/25/25climatewire-biofuels-of-no-benefit-to-military-rand-11643.html

News story 7: http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Biofuels/US-Airforce-Speak-Out-Against-Biofuel-Use-10-Times-the-Cost-of-Current-Jet-Fuel.html

News story 8: http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=aviationdaily&id=news/avd/2011/08/01/05.xml&headline=Aviation%20Calls%20For%20Government%20Backing%20To%20Boost%20Biofuels

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Honda Aircraft Unveils US Factory

Here is a feel-good story from the aeronautics industry in the US. While most US heavy industry manufacturers are moving production to China (including Boeing and the three auto companies), HondaJet is building itself a factory in the US.

With more than $100 million in infrastructure investment at Piedmont Triad International Airport in Greensboro, N.C., Honda Aircraft Company is on schedule to certify its unusual HondaJet by the end of 2012. Company officials showed off the pristine new facilities to media representatives July 12 (2011) and allowed an up-close look at its first conforming flight test airplane.

Honda Aircraft Company President and CEO Michimasa Fujino announced that the Model 420 HondaJet was just the beginning of a family of products to be manufactured at the 500,000-plus-square-foot factory complex at Piedmont Triad International. Company officials expect 70 to 100 airplanes to be produced a year at the facility.

With the low-drag engine configuration and specially designed natural laminar flow wing and cockpit area, the airplane easily makes its target cruise speed of 420 knots true airspeed, according to flight test pilots. The airplane has an expected IFR range of 1,180 nm and can fly as high as 43,000 feet.

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Chevron and NASA/JPL Partner Up for Petro-Energy Solutions

Meanwhile, in San Ramon, California, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Labs and Chevron Corporation announced the formation of an alliance to develop new technologies to improve the efficiency of recovering oil and natural gas resources.

The alliance’s initial focus is to develop a wide range of technologies—including power transmission, signal processing and electrical actuation—for application in deepwater…
The technology developed by JPL for interplanetary missions is also useful for gaining a better understanding of the geology of Earth. For example, JPL developed technology that enables electronic communication over millions of miles in outer space. That same technology may have application in deepwater energy operations, which extend thousands of feet below the surface of the ocean and encounter extreme pressures and temperatures. Continue reading

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Journal of Visualized Experiments

I came across this a few days ago and thought it was really neat.

Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) is a peer reviewed, PubMed indexed journal devoted to the publication of biological, medical, chemical and physical research in a video format.

The Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) was established as a new tool in life science publication and communication, with participation of scientists from leading research institutions. JoVE takes advantage of video technology to capture and transmit the multiple facets and intricacies of life science research. Visualization greatly facilitates the understanding and efficient reproduction of both basic and complex experimental techniques, thereby addressing two of the biggest challenges faced by today’s life science research community: i) low transparency and poor reproducibility of biological experiments and ii) time and labor-intensive nature of learning new experimental techniques.

JoVE has been around since December 2006 but so far it only caters to the fields of medicine and bioengineering. There are several experiments on there that utilize LabVIEW. I hope that this sort of video journals enter the field of engineering. They could be very useful to the disciplines of aerospace, mechanical, electrical engineering and material science.

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What’s Next for NASA?

Here is a summary of a speech given by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the 1st of July 2011 at the National Press Club, entitled “What’s Next for NASA”. Here is a link to the video and here is an 8-page transcript of the speech in PDF.

The end of the space shuttle program does not mean the end of NASA, or even of NASA sending humans into space. NASA has a robust program of exploration, technology development and scientific research that will last for years to come. Here is what’s next for NASA:

1. Exploration: Solar system, Mars, Moon, etc., Orion crew vehicle, heavy-lift Space Launch Vehicles, etc.

2. International Space Station

3. Aeronautics: more efficient aircraft, flight controls, air traffic controls, etc.

4. Science: more satellites Continue reading

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Ask The Pilot Blog

Here is an excellent blog by an actual pilot of cargo and passenger jet airliners, Patrick Smith from Massachusetts, called Ask the Pilot, where he answers FAQs about commercial flying and air travel. He also has a blog on Salon.com where he responds to questions from readers. Some of the questions he answers are:

* Turbulence: everything you need to know
* What is that trail of mist coming from the wing?
* What is windshear?
* Aborted landings for dummies
* Facts about cell phones and PEDs
* Why am I asked to close my window shade?
* The myths of cockpit automation. Do planes really “fly themselves?”
* Could a passenger land the plane?
* Everything you were afraid to know about landing gear

There is a lot more on his site.

Here is a link to a recent article he posted wherein he compares Boeing and Airbus jet planes.

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Google Sponsors Competition to the Moon for Private Firms

In the wake of the last Space Shuttle landing from NASA, here is an interesting news article entitled “Race to the moon heats up for private firms” from The Salt Lake Tribune, that offers hope for prospective space travelers.

Spurred by a $30 million purse put up by Google, 29 teams have signed up for a competition to become the first private venture to land on the moon. Most of them are unlikely to overcome the financial and technical challenges to meet the contest deadline of December 2015, but several teams think they have a good shot to win — and to take an early lead in a race to take commercial advantage of our celestial neighbor. Continue reading

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Bomb Proof Flexible Textile Based Luggage Hold for Aircraft

The above is a very interesting video, however the commentary is lame.

Continue reading

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Electric Aircraft 2011-2021 Report Released

A comprehensive and future-looking report on electric aircraft from today as well as upcoming projects for the next 10 years has been released by the Dutch online media company ASD Media, where ASD stands for  Aerospace, Space, Aviation, Defense and Security, all of the above.

The 207 page Electric Aircraft 2011-2021 report is

the first and only report to analyse all forms of electric flying vehicle from robot insects to new solar airships, light aircraft and airliners and give timelines to 2021. It covers manned and unmanned aircraft, technology, funding, standards and other aspects for hybrid and pure electric versions across the world. Unusually, we compare what is happening in aviation with progress in land and water based electric vehicles that are in some ways further progressed yet use similar components and powertrains to achieve largely similar objectives. Continue reading

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47th AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit 31-July to 3-Aug 2011 in San Diego, CA

The biggest annual conference on propulsion and energy is the Joint Propulsion Conference conducted annually by AIAA and a host of other professional societies. This year is the 47th session and it is being held at the San Diego Convention Center. Here is the announcement.

47th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit
and
9th Annual International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference

31 Jul – 3 Aug 2011
San Diego Convention Center
San Diego, California Continue reading

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