Wright Blog

Wright Weport July 2017

Dear all,
Welcome to the Wright Weport for July 2017.
  • Why Wright: Lower emissions, lower costs
  • Technical update: Electric boats
  • Business update: Seeking partner for prototype 4-6 seat electric plane
  • In the news: Student electric plane, reducing emissions, electric vehicle regulation
  • Past weports: here
Why Wright
  • Lower emissions
    • From the New York Times: “For many people reading this, air travel is their most serious environmental sin. One round-trip flight from New York to Europe or to San Francisco creates a warming effect equivalent to 2 or 3 tons of carbon dioxide per person. The average American generates about 19 tons of carbon dioxide a year; the average European, 10. So if you take five long flights a year, they may well account for three-quarters of the emissions you create.”
      • Takeaway: Electric airplanes have the potential to be zero emissions.
  • Lower costs
    • From a past weport (and via Tony Seba): Kodak’s business model was to charge per photo. Every click was money for Kodak. Digital cameras, by contrast, have zero marginal costs. Once a photographer has a digital camera, the incremental cost of each picture drops to zero.
    • Fuel’s business model is like Kodak’s. Every gallon is money for the fuel companies. Solar/wind is like a digital camera. Once someone has a solar panel, the incremental cost of each watt drops to zero.
      • Takeaway: Electric planes have the potential to be lower cost than fuel planes.
Note: we’re planning to include a “Why Wright” section in each Weport for context. 
Technical Update
As Wright works to break down boundaries in electric aviation, we are keeping an eye on the technology used in hybrid and all-electric boats.
It is particularly interesting to compare the scale of energy storage and propulsion power in large electric ferry boats to the scale that will be needed for airliners.
Roughly speaking, today’s largest electric ferries store one quarter the energy and use one tenth the power that would be needed for a short electric airliner route.
Last year, XALT energy announced that it will provide batteries for two massive electric ferries, each carrying 4.16 megawatt hours of energy. Those ferries once ran on diesel power and are being retrofitted with electric propulsion systems. One of the ferries is expected to begin service by end of summer. Each time the ferry docks, it will be automatically connected to a recharging station by a robot arm.
An electric ferry boat already in service, the Ampere, makes 34 trips per day carrying up to 120 cars at a time. It has a pair of 450 kw electric motors and carries about 1 megawatt hour of energy in its battery packs. The Norwegian vessel does not burn any fuel or produce any emissions, so don’t call it a Fjord hybrid. It has been in service since 2015.

Ampere electric ferry
Maritime air pollution is enormous. Large ships run on diesel, and diesel particles can cause health problems. For example, the section of Los Angeles where air quality is most likely to increase cancer risk is the Port of Los Angeles.
Several reports estimate that hybrid and electric maritime products will reach $20 billion in the late 2020s, with propulsion systems accounting for about a quarter of the opportunity. While most of the products developed for electric seafaring will not be suitable for use in aircraft, the reverse is not true. Components designed for electric aircraft could likely be repurposed for use in boats.
Business Update
We’re retrofitting a fuel plane to test out various components of our propulsion system (motors, propellers, transmission, etc.). The plane will be in the 4-6 seat size, potentially up to 9 seats.
We’re looking for an organization that is interested in testing this plane with us. The prototype plane will have lower emissions and noise.
Perhaps you’re an environmental group that scans large tracts of land via a Cessna 172; maybe you’re an agriculture company that uses a Thrush with your crops. We’d love to speak.
Let us know if anything comes to mind? Thank you in advance!
In the News
Thanks to Jenn, Joe, Noam, Randy, Doug, Ian, Ben, Andy, Chip, Darold and Karen, Brian, Tuto, Elsa, Sergio, John, Phil, Stonly, Sergio, Mike, Jason, Anna, Paul, Charif, Atin, Zach, Shaun, Sabrina, Jon, Scott, Bennett, Abe, Jude, Kate, Scott, Mrod, Aaron, Andrew, Bart, Dean, Gustaf, Neel, Andrew, Daniel, Ralph, Colin, Meridith, and everyone else who helped out and/or sent over words of encouragement.
See you in August!
Jeff and Aaron
PS: We really hope you’re enjoying these updates. But if at any time you’d like to stop receiving them, please just do so here. No hard feelings — we all understand inbox overload!

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