How to fly around the world without fuel
Solar Impulse is the idea of Swiss explorer Bertrand Piccard and engineer/entrepreneur André Borschberg who teamed up in 2003 to develop a revolutionary aircraft able to fly day and night using only energy collected by the sun. They take turns over multiple legs flying the airplane around the globe.
All of the plane’s systems are designed to maximize energy efficiency, minimize its weight and optimize its propulsion system. The plane has a single-seater, unpressurized, unheated cockpit that is only 134 cubic feet. The pilots fly long hours for several days at a time with hardly any sleep. This is a true test of endurance and alertness because although the plane can technically “last” a long time in the air, the pilot needs to have a similar “lasting” capability and ensure his piloting skills and his attention sharp. Both pilots undertook an intensive training program for emergency situations before attempting the round-the-world tour.
Solar Impulse was not built to carry passengers but to carry a message: “What we achieve in the air, anyone can do on the ground.” The clean technologies in this solar plane offer hope and innovative solutions in the fields of materials and lightweight structures, as well as energy storage and efficiency for tackling the challenges of our century.
The same energy-efficient solutions found in this airplane could already be used in our daily lives: in our electricity networks, houses, cars, as well as in our industrial processes. They could replace our old polluting devices, help improve the way we consume energy and help us stop wasting our natural resources.
For more information:
Solar Impulse Logbook
Solar Impulse presentation for Kids
Solar Impulse Exhibition
Brainstorm alternatives to using fossil fuels. Discuss the pros and cons of these alternatives.