Monday, April 09, 2007

Energy Efficient Airplane

Rutan Varieze Airplane
56.25 Miles Per Gallon - 180 Miles Per Hour

If you have to get someplace in a hurry and mass transit doesn’t quite reach where you are going, you may want to try flying – your own plane. Small airplanes can be one of the most efficient forms of transportation if designed for efficiency.

The Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) has developed the CAFÉ or Comparative Aircraft Flight Efficiency Foundation to measure and promote aircraft efficiency. Dr. Paul McCready, the man who designed the human powered airplane that crossed the English Channel is a sponsor of the organization.

The CAFÉ Foundation measured a custom built airplane that can achieve 180 miles per hour while only burning just 3.2 gallons of gas per hour. (link)

The CAFÉ Foundation also sponsors the Personal Air Vehicle Challenge, modeled after the X-Prize, the PAV challenge is to design an airplane that:

  • 200 mph “car” that flies above gridlock without traffic delays
  • Quiet, safe, comfortable and reliable
  • Able to be flown by anyone with a driver’s license
  • As affordable as travel by car or airliner
  • Near all-weather, on-demand travel enabled by synthetic vision
  • Highly fuel efficient and able to use alternative fuels
  • Up to 800 mile range
  • Walk to grandma’s from small residential airfields
VIA: Sustainable Design Update

Renewable Fuel

XelaTeco BioDigester

I follow the work of the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG) pretty closely. Through education and business development AIDG promotes sustainable technologies that improve the quality of life in developing countries. AIDG has identified several sustainable technologies that can be made locally, with local “eco-engineers”. One technology AIDG is promoting in Guatemala is the use of Biodigesters.

Biodigesters are appropriate technologies that take advantage of the energy that is naturally present in animal waste and kitchen trash. As these waste products break down, whether in the ground, a compost heap, landfill, or biodigester, they release methane, a potent greenhouse gas. In contrast to the other waste storage and disposal methods mentioned, a biodigester traps the methane before it becomes a problem and stores it for heating and cooking. In this way, biodigesters can provide a sustainable substitute for the propane, kerosene, and firewood that many rural families in developing countries use to serve these needs. For those families that have to buy their fuel, a biodigester can save them hundreds of U.S. dollars every year. For those that cut trees down for firewood, a biodigester will save them time and help to prevent the deforestation that is becoming prevalent in places where large numbers of people still gather their own firewood.

Biodigesters also create high quality fertilizer.

In a biodigester, animal waste is converted into biogas and fertilizer. Apart from providing fuel to the family that uses it, a biodigester is also a source of high quality organic fertilizer the family can use on its crops. During the decomposition process in the biodigester, the waste is also sterilized. This means that animal manure, which has caused many health problems in developing countries when placed on fields with close to the ground crops such as lettuce or cabbage, can be used without fear of causing sickness. Disease causing bacteria, such as E. Coli, are killed inside the biodigester and never make contact with the plants.

In households that use biodigester gas instead of wood to cook with there is a measurable improvement in the occupants health.

Introducing this simple technology reduces pressure on natural forests, provides free high quality fertilizer, reduces food borne illness due to E. Coli, improves health and saves money. This is a win-win-win-win-win technology.

(some text above was taken from the AIDG website)

Link to a National Public Radio Podcast on AIDG work in Guatemala.


Previously Posted on Sustainable Design Update