Elon Musk Unveils Tesla’s New Vehicle: Tesla Helicopter: Aircraft technology is overdue for a revolution. The promise that was the Boeing 787 with its phenomenal efficiency gains over previous models did not pan out as many hoped it would. However, that’s about to change as Elon Musk just revealed the Tesla helicopter. But how is that helicopter going to change the industry?
The impact of aviation on climate change has become a key driving force behind the development of electric aircraft, with some development teams aiming for a zero-emissions electric powertrain. Noise pollution from airplanes impairs sleep, interrupts children’s schooling, and may raise cardiovascular risk.
If not properly confined, airports can pollute neighboring water bodies due to their massive handling of aircraft fuel and deicing chemicals. In the United Kingdom, transportation has surpassed electricity generation as the leading source of emissions.
This includes the 4% contribution from aviation. This is predicted to grow until 2050, at which point passenger demand may have to be curtailed. The UK objective of an 80% reduction from 1990 to 2050 was still attainable from 2019, according to the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC), although the committee recommends that the Paris Agreement’s emission targets be tightened.
They believe that emissions from problematic industries such as aviation should be compensated through greenhouse gas removal, carbon capture and storage, and reforestation. In December 2020 the UK Climate Change Committee said that: “Mitigation options considered include demand management, improvements in aircraft efficiency (including use of hybrid electric aircraft), and use of sustainable aviation fuels to displace fossil jet fuel.”
International aviation and shipping will be included in the UK’s carbon budgets, and the UK expects that other nations would follow suit. Electric airplanes create no pollution, and power may be generated using renewable energy sources.
Lithium-ion batteries, including packaging and peripherals, have an energy density of 160 Wh/kg, but aviation gasoline has a density of 12,500 Wh/kg. Because electric machines and converters are more efficient, their available shaft power is closer to 145 Wh/kg of batteries, compared to 6,545 Wh/kg of fuel for a gas turbine: a 45:1 ratio.
This 1:50 ratio, according to Collins Aerospace, precludes the use of electric propulsion for long-range aircraft. The German Aerospace Center predicted that big electric planes will be ready by 2040 by November 2019. Large, long-haul planes are unlikely to be electrified until 2070 or the twenty-first century, but smaller planes can be.
Huge technological shifts are uncertain, according to the UK’s Committee on Climate Change (CCC), but Roland Berger predicts 80 new electric aircraft programs between 2016 and 2018, with all-electric for the smaller two-thirds and hybrid for larger aircraft, with commercial service dates in the early 2030s on short-haul routes like London to Paris, and all-electric aircraft not expected until 2045.
By 2050, Berger predicts a 24 percent CO2 share for aviation if fuel efficiency improves by 1% per year and there are no electric or hybrid aircraft, dropping to 3–6% if 10-year-old aircraft are replaced by electric or hybrid aircraft due to regulatory constraints, beginning in 2030, and reaching 70% of the 2050 fleet by 2050.
The value of the existing fleet of aircraft would be considerably reduced as a result, however. So, electrification is going to be an absolute must for the aviation industry soon. How Do Electric Airplanes Work?
We’ll provide a very basic rundown on how they work. Solar cells that convert sunlight directly into electricity using photovoltaic materials, microwave radiation blasted from a distant transmitter, and power cables coupled to a ground-based electrical supply are some of the mechanisms for delivering the required electricity.
A solar cell transforms sunlight directly into electricity, which can be used immediately or stored temporarily. Solar cells have a modest power output and must be coupled in large groups, which limits their application.
In direct sunshine, typical solar panels with a conversion efficiency of 15-20% (sunlight energy to electrical power) generate roughly 150–200 W/m2. Solar power modules have dropped in price by 90% between 2010 and 2020, and they continue to reduce at a rate of 13-15 percent per year.
Solar cell efficiency has also increased significantly, from 2% in 1955 to 20% in 1985, with some experimental systems already exceeding 44%. Solar power is interesting for high-altitude, long-endurance applications due to the unrestricted availability of sunlight, which is substantially more effective than on the ground due to the cold and lower air interference.
The environmental lapse rate (ELR), or the drop in dry-air temperature as altitude increases, averages 6.49 °C/km (memorized in pilot training as 1.98 °C/1,000 ft or 3.56 °F/1,000 feet), implying that the temperature at a typical airliner’s cruising altitude of around 35,000 ft (11,000 m) will be significantly lower than at ground level.
Night flying, such as endurance flights and aircraft that provide 24-hour coverage over an area, generally necessitates the use of a backup storage system that is charged during the day from excess power and provides power during the hours of darkness.
A ground-based power source is required for power-beaming electromagnetic radiation such as microwaves. Power beaming, on the other hand, allows the aircraft to move laterally and has a significantly reduced weight penalty, especially as the altitude rises. The technique has only been proven on modest sizes and is still in the early stages of development.
An electrical power line can be attached to a ground-based supply, such as an electric generator or the local power grid, for powered vehicles to replace tethered aerostats. This removes the need to carry batteries at low altitudes and was employed by the Petróczy-Kármán-urovec PKZ-1 observation vehicle of 1917.
However, as it rises in altitude, the length of rope it raises grows heavier. Tesla Aircraft Concepts Elon Musk has indicated an interest in a “Tesla Model V” electric aircraft concept design. The CEO of the electric car firm reacted to the design through Twitter.
The concept was created by Tom Abbot-Davies, a British industrial designer. The design is based on the look of a manta ray and can transport one passenger, according to eVTOL News. “Looks pretty cool,” Musk said in response to a description of the proposal posted on Twitter by “blue bnd.”
Three ducted fans with titanium turbine blades that can fly vertically are included, with the rear fan mounted on a gimbal enabling forward flight. All this is gyroscopically stabilized for a smoother flight.
A 1,250-kilowatt rear motor and dual 650-kilowatt brushless motors with rotor blades are among the three lithium-ion battery-powered motors. All of this adds up to scattered electric propulsion, which means that even if one piece fails, the plane may still land safely. On the exterior, the retractable landing gear is hidden under a carbon-fiber underbody.
It has a magnesium fuselage, a titanium shell, and a wide canopy with seating for two people. The other concept proposed comes in the form of a helicopter. The Tesla Helicopter physically and spiritually symbolizes the company’s DNA, having been designed at a time when Tesla’s batteries would be capable of powering large manned flying vehicles.
The Helicopter, which is built for efficiency and speed, would be perfect for safety and patrol agencies, allowing the administration to successfully police the air and ground while also delivering help in an emergency.
It includes a five-bladed top rotor, as opposed to the normal two or three blades, which is intended to allow the helicopter to obtain lift force more gradually and avoid turbulence during ascension and descent.
From these concept photos, the cockpit appears to be totally closed, but we expect Tesla will add technology to toggle a covering or shield on top of the cockpit, allowing the pilot to switch from direct vision to a video-connected feed of the view. This might be incredibly useful while flying the helicopter during snowstorms, sandstorms, or really severe rain.
The general exoskeleton-like constructions enclosing the helicopter’s fuselage appear to be for stability, and the two smaller fins on either side, similar to those found on fixed-wing aircraft but considerably smaller, appear to serve the same reason.
“I’m so dying to do a supersonic, electric VTOL jet, but adding more work will make my brain explode,” he tweeted in 2021, using emojis for the final two words. Mr. Musk has already stated his desire to construct an electric plane during one of his appearances on the Joe Rogan podcast and has previously described a proposal. “I have a design for a plane,” he said.
“The exciting thing to do would be some kind of electric vertical takeoff and landing, supersonic jet.” The concept would use two different propulsion systems: one to lift the plane off the crowd and into the sky, the other to propel the craft forward at supersonic speeds.
Musk reiterated the need to prioritize other things over the electric plane by saying, “We had quite a few fish to fry here, so maybe one day the electric plane.”
After detailing the challenges of overcoming the battery density roadblock, Musk said,
“It would be a fun problem to work on at some point, but we’ve got a lot to do over the next few years, so we’ve got to focus on these things. Get them right, and then maybe one day does that.” The Tesla aircraft may not be too far off on the horizon after all.
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