Solar Impulse 2 is the world first solar-powered aircraft that has made a round-the-world trip and crossed the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. In the pilot’s seat were alternately Bertrand Piccard, the author of the idea, hereditary balloonist, and engineer Andre Borschberg. The team of Solar Impulse, a unique and eco-friendly Swiss project, shared with us the basic principles of work and plans for the future.
Solar Impulse was not designed to carry passengers, but to convey the idea. To show that existing alternative energy sources and new technologies allow us to achieve what many thought as impossible. To draw attention to the need for change for the Earth future.
Even realizing that our actions threaten the death of the whole planet, many are still not ready to give up the usual standards of life. And appeals to such victims will always encounter resistance. Who will abandon his car because the sea level will rise in 30 years? Therefore, it is better to demonstrate to people that everyone can save and even improve the quality of life thanks to affordable and environmentally friendly technologies, while reducing the negative impact on the environment.
Solutions to environmental problems have existed before, but they have not been profitable. Today, pure technologies that are capable of generating profits have already been developed. New heating, air conditioning or lighting systems, new communication networks and energy distribution systems.
To make the batteries charged, the plane needs a lot of sun. Cumulonimbus clouds can become a fatal obstacle. Therefore, a team of meteorologists on the ground and pilots should foresee such phenomena in order to avoid unnecessary risk. It is also important that the aircraft is not exposed to too strong winds and rains, which can damage it. With this in mind, the schedule and the itinerary were compiled. So, starting in March, the pilots managed to fly over India before the rainy season began. The fact that the starting point was the Persian Gulf is also not accidental: the sun is constantly shining there.
Most aircraft are equipped with an anti-icing system. Solar Impulse does not have it, so it’s in no way possible to get into the record low temperature zones. Even going down during a night flight, the pilot does not shut down the engines, although this could save precious energy. The running engine makes sure that the cold does not hurt all the aircraft systems, and in the morning they will be normal.
Particular difficulty for pilots is a lack of sleep. They cannot sleep during flights over populated areas. Stay awake from 24 to 46 hours. The only salvation is the periods of relaxation through meditation or self-hypnosis. But during the flights across the ocean, which took from 3 to 5 days, they could take a nap – but no longer than 20 minutes.
For too long, we have treated energy in the same way as a person who washes in a leaking bath and instead of closing holes, leaves the tap unclosed to maintain the water level. This is not an exaggeration. Today, we lose half of all the energy produced because of inefficient systems, devices and buildings.
Our main goal is not to make a revolution in industry, but to change people’s attitude to energy and environmentally friendly technologies. Solar Impulse 2 – it’s excellent aerodynamic performance, lightness and strength of materials, electric motors with 97% efficiency, LED lamps for external and internal lighting system, special foam insulator, which can reduce energy consumption in each house, batteries with high energy density and ultra-thin solar cells. All this can be used in ordinary life, and can make our world cleaner. This is very important for sustainable development. And some of these technologies are already being applied.
Every hour the world consumes around a million tons of gasoline. Burning, all this pollutes the atmosphere and alters the climate. But things may be different. Renewable energy will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.
The Solar Impulse Foundation is currently working on the development of the World Alliance for Effective Solutions. The goal of the alliance created during the climate conference COP22 is to unite all start-ups, companies, institutions and organizations that offer, implement, or support effective and profitable solutions to make our future clean. They plan to submit a catalog containing 1,000 such decisions at the COP24 conference in late 2018.
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