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The Solar Impulse 2 is on his way


A flight around the Earth on pure solar power. A record attempt to promote the use of clean energy. This morning has left from Abu Dhabi the first airplane, which exclusively uses solar energy, for a flight around the Earth. The unit, named Solar Impulse 2, is a step towards a ‘ greener infrastructure ‘: there is not a drop of kerosene consumed.

The journey of about 35,000 km of the first plane without kerosene will happen in twelve stages and will take five months. The Solar Impulse 2 is a single aircraft and operated by two Swiss pilots who alternate each other per stage. The first stage towards the Eyes capital Muscat, where the plane should come at the end of the day. The Swiss Technical University EPFL developed the plane. Solar Impulse 2 is the second prototype plane that flies only on solar energy. The first prototype made a flight of 24 hours and did a test for this project.

The wings of the Solar Impulse 2 with 72 meters are almost as wide as an Airbus A380, but the unit is weighing 2,300 kilos 150 times lighter. It features four electric motors, which are fed by 17.248 solar cells. The unit extracts speeds between 50 and 100 kilometres per hour. The Solar Impulse is the first aircraft that is able to fly day and night without kerosene. The Solar Impulse 2 can also fly when the sun is on the other side of the Earth. The solar cells produce enough power to recharge the batteries so that the vehicle still has enough electricity in the dark. And this is necessary, because they have to fly over two oceans. The Swiss told the BBC: “some parts of the trip, as the Great and the Atlantic Ocean, are made by one pilot. Then the pilot is flying for five á six days. ”

During the flights, the pilots must be alert day and night. To relax it is allowed to have a nap of twenty minutes. It is also heavy physically, because the pilots get only a cockpit of 3.8 cubic metres at their disposal, not much bigger than a phone booth.

The flight route will start and end in Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates. The intermediate stops are planned in India, Myanmar, Oman, China, Hawaii, Phoenix and New York. The route is not completely solid. The stage across the Atlantic depends on the weather. It is still unclear whether there is stopped in southern Europe or Morocco. The last stage is back to Abu Dhabi. The end of the journey is currently scheduled for late July.

Photo credit: EdMullin / Foter / CC BY

About Frank Scheers

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