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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, February 19, 2018

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Solar-powered plane completes 16-month-long historic flight to advocate renewable energy

Abu Dhabi after the first fuel-free flight around the world

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ABU DHABI, U.A.E. – After a 16-month voyage to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy, a solar-powered aircraft returned to Abu Dhabi after the first fuel-free flight around the world, on Tuesday.> Big News Network

According to reports, the Solar Impulse 2 took off from Abu Dhabi on March 9, 2015 to undertake a journey of about 40,000 km and almost 500 hours of flying time, and was piloted, in turns, by Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, the Swiss founders of the project.

The plane has a wingspan of 236 feet (72 meters), larger than a Boeing 747 but weighs as much as a minivan or mid-sized truck.

It is powered by 17,248 solar cells that transfer energy to four electrical motors that power the plane's propellers, and runs on four lithium polymer batteries at night.

The plane made 16 stops across the world, including Oman, India, Myanmar, China, Japan, the United States, Spain and Italy, without using a drop of fuel.

Piccard said, “More than an achievement in the history of aviation, Solar Impulse has made history in energy. I’m sure that within the next 10 years we’ll see electric airplanes carrying 50 passengers on short- to medium-haul flights.”

He claimed that, if used on the ground in daily life, the technology could halve emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas blamed for climate change, save natural resources and improve quality of life.

Borschberg said, “By flying around the world thanks to renewable energy and clean technologies, we have demonstrated that we can now make our world more energy efficient.”

The flight also set set no fewer than 19 aviation records, including being the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean by a solar-powered airplane and the longest flight duration by an aircraft flying solo, as Borschberg flew over the Pacific Ocean for 118 continuous hours.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon lavished praise on the team, saying, “My deepest admiration and respect for your courage. This is a historic day, not only for you but for humanity.”

The current capability is to carry only one person, the pilot, making Solar Impulse infeasible for mass transport.

Further, its speed is slow and the big wingspan and light-weight design can cause bumpy rides, especially during turbulence.

However, supplementing power systems by solar is a technique being actively researched by many organisations, including Facebook and the makers of Zephyr.

 

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