The curtain rises on an innovative project: the second Solar Impulse aircraft is now ready. The first plane to fly around the world without fuel in 2015 It was presented today in Payerne (Switzerland). The aircraft is particularly light and energy efficient.
During its historic journey around the world, the airplane It will be powered exclusively by solar energy. This energy will be generated by the approximately 17,200 solar cells located in the wings, which at 72 meters are similar in size to that of a large passenger plane. The plane weighs only 2.3 tonnes, however.
The new aircraft contains many improvements following a first prototype which proved in 2010 that it was possible to fly day and night only thanks to solar energy. He has since completed numerous successful flights, including a recent coast-to-coast trip across the United States. The second model will perform a series of test flights this year, before embarking on its major mission in March 2015.
Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, founders of the Solar Impulse project more than ten years ago, were in charge of presenting the aircraft. Through this project, the two want to demonstrate the enormous potential contribution of technologies in terms of energy efficiency, renewable energies and new solutions for transport.
“The Solar Impulse initiative is scientific and innovative in nature. It also has a philosophical aspect, given its objective of raising society’s awareness of the need to save the energy resources of our planet. In line with its Science for a Better Life mission, without Bayer, this solar powered aircraft would not have been light and efficient enough to fly day and night without fuel, ”said Piccard.
“The Solar Impulse project demonstrates how our innovations can help preserve the planet and its natural resources, improve people’s lives and create value,” said Richard Northcote, Bayer MaterialScience executive committee member responsible for sustainability .
One of the materials provided by Bayer is Baytherm® Microcell high performance insulation, its insulation properties are 10% better than the current standard. Effective insulation is particularly important for aircraft, as it must withstand temperature variations from less than 40 degrees Celsius at night to over 40 degrees during the day.
This material is also used for the aircraft door, while the rest of the cabin structure is made of another type of rigid polyurethane foam. Outside the cabin, rigid polyurethane foam is also used to insulate the batteries.