SA’s Pegasus Vertical Business Jet gets ready for lift-off
The Pegasus Vertical Business Jet (VBJ), being developed in South Africa, is entering its next phase with two quarter-scale models to be ready for testing and engineering by May 2021 and a full-scale unmanned hover model by the end of the year. This follows the successful hover demonstration of a 1/8-scale model in July last year and the registration of patent rights in South Africa, Europe, and the US.
The aircraft is set to revolutionise business travel globally and free travelers from the burden of the time-consuming drive to the airport. The aircraft, that combines and enhances the characteristics of a helicopter with the luxury, range, and speed of a business jet, has been hailed by the urban mobility project as the sixth most likely to succeed globally in a 2019 independent review by Abbott Aerospace. The review included 100 different projects, including some sponsored and supported by Boeing, Airbus & various governments around the World as well as venture capital companies with billions of Dollars in funding.
“Most of these are of the air taxi type, therefore, more compelling and exciting for us, is that we were ranked first in the VTOL airplanes aimed at business jet type mission profile,” says Dr. Reza who first conceptualized the Pegasus VBJ. Dr Reza, one of South Africa’s most renowned practitioners in the field of aesthetic medicine and an avid aeronautics scholar, was the founder CEO of Pegasus Universal Aerospace and now serves as chairman of the company.
Feasibility studies have valued the potential market at $2-trillion over twenty years. With a wingspan of 14.8m the Pegasus VBJ can take off and land on any helipad, but thanks to its cool-air fan technology also on grass, wooden decks and even moving surfaces like a yacht, something that eVTOL craft cannot do. This means the Pegasus VBJ can free busy executives from the time-consuming trip to the airport, even on long-range flights. It can also provide a solution for dense urban areas where space to build airports are limited. The aircraft seats seven people, including the pilot and has a range of 4400km from a runway take-off and 2124km from vertical take-off. Its endurance is 6.6 hours (runway) or 3.18 hours (VTOL).
The unique flight control system being developed by Callen Lenz in the UK will ensure enhanced safety and ease of flight from a pilot’s perspective. Pegasus has partnered with Centurion-based aeronautical engineering company Epsilon Engineering Services in the further development of the aircraft. Transportation & Industrial designer Tamir Mizrahi joined Pegasus in January 2021 as the VBJ’s exterior & interior innovation designer. The company is already working with AWS Amazon to develop a smart manufacturing facility with Artificial Intelligence and robotics.
In 2019 the Pegasus Universal Aerospace appointed Robbie Irons, who has extensive experience in business aviation with companies like ExecuJet and Bombardier as CEO and since aviation heavyweight Andrew Dietrich joined the company as chief pilot and head of flight operations. The developers are currently raising funds with an offer of profit sharing for investors participating in its seven-year note. The minimum investment is R10 000. Dr Reza says the current fundraising is the third of its kind. While there is a total of R261-million’s worth of shares available, the immediate target is R30million – R40 million.
“We have more than delivered on the promises made at our previous fund raising. It is a big responsibility to work with other people’s money and we make sure that we stretch each rand as far as possible,” Dr Reza says.
Offers to become part of this unique project close in June. The prospectus and a full presentation are available at https://pegasusua.com/View more
Plugging into the reality of 2nd LiFe batteries: second life is not second-hand
“A 2nd LiFe Battery is not second-hand. A 2nd LiFe battery has been repurposed and the cells have had their life extended by being applied to less strenuous operating conditions.”
A pioneer in the sector, REVOV, has been developing and supplying 2nd LiFe storage battery systems in South Africa and neighbouring countries for four and a half years. Not only is an investment in second life technology the environmentally prudent thing to do, but it makes sense from a performance and price perspective and international players have discovered this.
After a few years electric (EV) batteries are replaced with new ones because the weight of the battery in the car no longer justifies its performance. However, when the cells are repurposed for storage batteries, there is a compelling solution to preventing huge numbers of batteries being dumped into landfills.
The concept and application is gaining traction around the globe, and bolster’s REVOV’s resolve. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) said Relectrify, which has been working with American Electric Power and Nissan North America on a pilot project, will now finalise development and undertake certifications ahead of the deployment of 20 ReVolve battery units across C&I applications throughout Australia.
In order to understand what it is that REVOV and its international counterparts are seeing in 2nd LiFe, we delve a little deeper to understand the science behind these batteries particularly now that load shedding is once again on every South African’s agenda.
We asked REVOV MD Lance Dickerson to plug us into the reality of 2nd LiFE batteries and what they are:
Please go into a little detail of why automotive grade batteries are so transferable to storage?
Automotive grade cells are manufactured specifically for use in the very harsh environment of a motor vehicle. This includes being mobile, subjected to vibrations continuously, high temperatures and to high charge and discharge currents in the effort to optimise charge time vs distance vs speed.
Stationary storage applications change this high throughput requirement, and optimise the requirement to provide a lower throughput over a longer period of time, significantly enhancing the life expectancy of the once automotive battery.
In which circumstances in daily use will this come in handy, or will the owner notice these benefits?
Typically a backup storage battery is dimensioned to provide power throughout the night, around 10 hours or more, or at worst for at least the four hours of load shedding we all have come to love. The battery, dimensioned to provide 10 hours of backup, is only typically running at 1/10th of its maximum output which lends itself to an extended life, and an optimal cost per kWh.
Effectively, an automotive grade cell running at less than 1/10th of its design potential can obviously be expected to last longer than originally planned
Let’s compare 2nd LiFe Lithium-iron to other types of batteries. What are you prepared to say, if anything?
Firstly, Any Lithium Iron Phosphate cell is superior in terms of safety, over any other Lithium Ion battery chemistry, and typically has a higher life expectancy and a higher specific power. It loses some distance in terms of specific energy per kg, however, this is not important in a stationary application where weight is less important.
Secondly, an automotive grade 2nd LiFe Lithium Iron Phosphate battery, used in a stationary storage application, is subjected to charge and discharge currents that are significantly lower than its design capability. This reduced stress translates into a non-linear improvement in terms of cycle life, easily providing the same lifespan as a new battery specifically designed to provide stationary storage only, at a much-reduced cost.
When we say a battery is repurposed (2nd LiFe). What does this specifically mean?
A 2nd LiFe battery can take on a number of different shapes and sizes. If the battery is removed from the vehicle and found to be in exceptional condition it can be used as is, in a mostly 12v configuration, at medium-to-low charge and discharge rates. The only addition would be an external battery management system which would ensure the battery cells are protected from excessive charge and discharge currents and voltages and ensure the cells inside the battery remain balanced.
Most often the capacities and voltage combinations used in modern EVs are not suitable for the modern 48VDC renewable energy system. Most 2nd LiFe battery cells are unpacked from the vehicle battery casings and packed into formats that suit their usage in the environments they are being destined to. This requires new components in every part of the battery except the battery cell itself.
As an example, a very popular format is the 19-inch rack-mountable size, allowing them to be mounted easily in cheap IT-type cabinets. 2nd LiFe can be packaged into almost any shape, size, capacity and for any application, you can imagine. Easily packaged into tubular shapes for mounting around poles at height, into thin wide arrangements to fit behind 4×4 seats for auxiliary power whilst camping, into small cubes to fit into UPSs created for rectangular Lead Acid batteries, and almost any other use you can think of.
In your words, what is the difference between 2nd LiFe and second hand (if there is more to it than above)?
A 2nd LiFe battery has been used in a motor vehicle, or mobile application specifically as a primary source of power to drive the vehicle. Its 2nd LiFe is engaged when the battery has lost approximately 20% of its original capacity, and due to weight being an issue in a mobile application, its purpose is changed to become mostly a secondary power source, storing energy generated by renewable sources or Eskom Grid power. This energy is stored and then used at a reasonably mediocre rate to provide power when renewables such as wind and sun are not available or to provide backup power for periods longer than two hours.
This process effectively extends the life of the battery giving it what we term a 2nd LiFe.
In contrast, a second-hand battery would be a storage battery used to provide storage for a time, uninstalled and re-installed to perform the same function in another location. Nothing in this process extends its life or changes the conditions under which it operates and it will simply last as long as originally planned.
What is the lifespan of 2nd LiFe in cycles and years?
Due to the reduced stress, and the history provided with a 2nd LiFe battery, by the vehicle BMS, lifespan is easily predicted forward.
Most 2nd LiFe batteries were originally designed with a life expectancy of 6 000 to 7 000 cycles in an automotive primary power source application and applied into 2nd LiFe applications once they have endured 1 500 to 2 000 cycles in a vehicle.
This means they still have a life expectancy of another 4 to 5 000 cycles under the same conditions as in the vehicle. But stationary storage reduces the stresses on the battery cells enormously from their design capability and hence the life span of the 5 to 6000 additional cycles is easily met.
In REVOV batteries – which components are brand new in the 2nd LiFe batteries – electronics, cases, display etc?
The only component inside a REVOV battery which is not new is the actual battery cell. From the busbars interconnecting cells, to the monitoring harnesses, cables, and sensors, casing, connectors, screws, and bolts, all are new. The Battery Management System used is specifically designed for the 2nd LiFe cells and is not the same system used in the vehicle either.
What are some of the biggest REVOV 2nd LiFe installations you are aware of, and were they used for UPS or renewable setups?
We currently have a number of REVOV 2nd LiFe installations exceeding 320kWh, these are in total off-grid applications where the customer has disconnected Eskom or doesn’t have reliable access to Eskom, to similar size units which provide UPS functionality in case of Eskom failure. These are typically in the 48V nominal range, and 300-350 kWh is really the limit that a low voltage (48VDC) installation should be built at. Larger than that the requirement for larger conductors becomes critical, and installation becomes impractical.
The vast majority of our installations and applications are between 10kWh and 100kwh. We are currently working on some much larger applications, but these will ultimately use a High Voltage setup and design, where the batteries are connected in series to reach voltages up to the 800VDC range, this, in turn, has a significant effect in terms of ease of installation and cable sizes and costs.
Watch this space carefully as REVOV launches the first 2nd LiFe HVDC battery product in Africa in the next few months.View more
Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen use AI to identify sustainability risks
Intelligent sustainability radar for the supply chain: the Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen brands are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to identify sustainability risks such as environmental pollution, human rights abuses and corruption at an early stage – not only among direct business partners but also at the lower levels of their supply chain.
The basis for this monitoring system is an intelligent algorithm developed by the Austrian start-up Prewave. The technology is capable of identifying and analysing supplier-related news from publicly available media and social networks in more than 50 languages and over 150 countries. If there is any indication of a sustainability risk in the supply chain, the brands are notified.
Procurement then looks at the facts of the situation and considers initiating countermeasures. In this way, AI provides a proactive early warning system for breaches of the Volkswagen Group’s sustainability requirements. It therefore supplements traditional reactive complaint channels such as mailboxes and ombudspersons. Since the pilot project began in October 2020, the brands have analysed more than 5 000 keywords and are keeping an eye on over 4 000 suppliers.
“Prewave enables us to manage risks in a targeted manner – even in the lower-level supply chains. For us, this is about transparency. Artificial Intelligence simplifies the complex analysis of data, allowing us to address partners directly and request improvements in sustainability. The goal is to achieve this in partnership with suppliers. In the event of escalation, however, termination of business relations is certainly also an option”, says Markus Wagner, Head of Procurement Strategy and Sustainability at Porsche AG.
“The key advantage of AI is the speed at which it can recognise relevant news online and transmit this in bundled form. This enables us to find out about sustainability risks much earlier on, so we can respond more quickly,” says Marco Philippi, Head of Procurement Strategy at Audi. “AI is an ideal example of how digitalisation can contribute to greater transparency in the supply chain.”
Ullrich Gereke, Head of Procurement Strategy for the Volkswagen Group, adds: “We are meeting our responsibility for ensuring a sustainable and fair supply chain – we established sustainability criteria for our suppliers on a contractual basis as long ago as 2014. Since 2019, we have checked compliance with our standards as part of the award process. By partnering with Prewave, we now have another tool to uncover and investigate potential violations, thereby contributing to improved social and environmental conditions at our suppliers’ production sites.”
“We are delighted to be working with Porsche, Audi and Volkswagen on this flagship project in the automotive industry. Our technology allows us to screen thousands of globally distributed suppliers for sustainability risks in real time. Machine learning and automated language processing give us a capability we could never achieve manually: continuous risk assessment across the entire supply chain as a basis for procurement departments to proactively approach suppliers,” says Harald Nitschinger, CEO Prewave.
The Volkswagen Group’s sustainability requirements are summarised in the Code of Conduct for Business Partners. The Group takes well-founded reports of violations very seriously and systematically follows up on them. From 2019, the S-Rating – a sustainability rating for suppliers – was successively introduced by the individual Group brands as a mandatory order award criterion.View more