In an ongoing effort to make the world a greener place, everybody is either going electric, solar or some other form of renewable energy. While we’ve had quite a number of such cars, vehicles such as airplanes are rarely in the spotlight for utilizing such technologies. This is where Solar Impulse HB-SIA comes in. The solar-powered aircraft is capable of cruising at top speeds of 70km/h while staying over 27,900 feet in the air.
Because it purely relies on solar power, the designers needed the aircraft to be lightweight, and use very little energy when flying. They managed to accomplish the former by building its frame out of carbon fiber and the latter by using low-powered engines. The plane’s motors achieve an average power of no more than 8HP or 6kW – roughly the amount of power the Wright brothers had available to them in 1903 when they made their first powered flight and less than what some lawnmower uses to cut grass!
The Solar Impulse will be demonstrated at the 40th International Paris Air Show (June 20-26 2011) later this year – but not before its international flights. The plane is expected to make a trip around the world next year. Head over to the Solar Impulse website to stay updated about the airplane and its endeavors. If all goes well, hopefully it will lead to the rise of more solar powered aircraft in the future.
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