UQM powers electric plane to two records

An all-electric plane piloted by Chip Yates set two new Guinness world records for electric-powered flight last month, and part of the credit goes to a Longmont company.

UQM Technologies Inc. (NYSE MKT: UQM) built the PowerPhase motor and controller that propelled Yates’ plane at the Capital Air Show in Sacramento, California.

“Yates has taken electric-powered transportation to new heights with his latest round of records,” said Eric Ridenour, president and chief executive of UQM, in a press statement. “Unlike internal-combustion engines, the power output of our electric motor is not affected by altitude, providing steady and consistent power.”

At the air show, Yates set a new record for speed of climb to altitude in an electric airplane, reaching 500 meters (1,640 feet) in 62.58 seconds from a complete stop. He also set a record for speed over a one-kilometer (0.62 miles) course, averaging two passes, one from each direction. Yates piloted the electric aircraft to 220.9 miles per hour on the first pass and 212.9 mph on the second, resulting in a new world record of 216.9 mph.

Another kind of energy source is just finding its wings.

Energy-conserving technology has brought us CFLs and LEDs. But for researchers at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, the word “power” begins with pee.

This whiz of a team flushed out a way to run a number of everyday electronic devices – including cell phones, light fixtures and electric razors and toothbrushes – using “urine power.” Funded by a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the team was able to convert urine into fuel through the use of a microbial fuel cell. The obvious hope is that these fuel cells eventually will be marketed and used to help supplement the electricity supplied to homes and commercial facilities.

“Using urine to produce electricity is about as ‘eco’ (or green and sustainable) as it gets,” said Loannis Leropoulous, an engineer on the project. “The technology allows us to turn something that was viewed as waste into something that is as useful as electricity.”

That next step already is under way. Urine fuel cells will be used to heat new office buildings in The Hague, capital of The Netherlands. The complex, slated to open in two years, will include waterless urinals in the men’s restrooms, and the low-tech live stream they collect will be used in the fuel cells.

“If this succeeds, and studies are growing very hopeful, this can be a very significant development helping to reduce our demand for nonsustainable energy sources and accessing an organic substance that will always be available,” said Klaus Reichardt, chief executive and founder of Vista, California-based Waterless Co. Inc., which makes the waterless urinals. No Johnny-come-lately, Waterless has been in business since 1991.

We’ll have further details as they leak.