Friday 9 November 2007

The Solar Impulse: Solar Powered Plane Takes Off!

Solar power just made aviation history, as two Swiss adventurers revealed a prototype for a solar-powered aircraft they hope will be the first to fly around the globe in 2011. The Solar Impulse prototype was just unveiled yesterday and is an amazing feat of design and engineering. Made from light-weight and super strong carbon fiber, and covered with a thin layer of high powered photovoltaics, the plane has a wingspace of 262ft from wing tip to wing tip.

The biggest challenges for solar flight up until now has been how to store enough energy from its array of solar panels to keep the slow & lightweight aircraft flying in darkness. In the case of the The Solar Impulse, engineers are relying on the battery capacity of the plane - which will store the energy generated during the day to keep the plane alight at night. The ultra-thin solar cells integrated into the wings will be used to collect sunlight and convert it into energy to power the four electric motors.

Sources 1 & 2
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