Solar Power: Zero Fuel Airplane

Problem:

Airplanes use a lot of fuel – according to Boeing’s website: “A plane like a Boeing 747 (AKA Jumbo, with about 400 passengers capacity) uses approximately 1 gallon of fuel (about 4 liters) every second.  Over the course of a 10-hour flight, it might burn 36,000 gallons (150,000 liters). It “burns approximately 5 gallons of fuel per mile (12 liters per kilometer).” Demand for traditional fuel is unsustainable long term (non-reusable and pollutant).

Technology:

Solar Impulse 2  – Zero Fuel Airplane

  • Solar power (clean technology) used to fly airplanes
  • “Real airborne technology lab with virtually endless endurance, capable of crossing oceans and continents by remaining in the air for several days and nights in a row.”
  • Zero fuel airplane
    • 12 years of feasibility study, concept, design and construction
    • 1 prototype (Solar Impulse 1, registered as HB-SIA)
    • 1 final airplane: (Solar Impulse 2, registered as HB-SIB)
  • Challenge:  “fly through 5 consecutive days and nights without using any fuel, so as to cross oceans from one continent to the next.”
    • Previous record: 76 hours non-stop flight
  • Results: New record July 3rd: 120 hours (5 days1)– from Nagoya to Kalaeloa (outside Honolulu)

“A sun-powered airplane has landed in Hawaii after a five-day journey from Japan that smashed the previous record of 76 hours for the longest duration nonstop solo flight.”

Technology Stakeholders

  1. The Solar Impulse project stakeholders:
    • 50 engineers and technicians
    • 80 technological partners
    • More than 100 advisers and suppliers
  1. Aero companies
  2. Airplane customers (travelers)
  3. Airports
  4. Governments
  5. National and International Aviation agencies
  6. Aviation industry employees (pilots/crew)

Implementation:

  1. New technology still being tested – would need to have confirmation that technology is safe and reliable before massive implementation
  2. Once proven to be reliable and safe, stakeholders would need to adopt use of new techonology
  3. Subsidizing could decrease costs involved in adopting clean energy
  4. Massive manufacturing could also help to lower costs
  5. Marketing to educate customers on new techonology in order to ensure adoption/usage
  6. Massive implementation of solar energy fueled airplanes on domestic/international flights

Sources: http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2015/07/03/419812971/pilot-in-solar-powered-plane-sets-aviation-record

http://www.solarimpulse.com/leg-8-from-Nagoya-to-Hawaii

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3 thoughts on “Solar Power: Zero Fuel Airplane

  1. This is a very beneficial idea because it addresses a topic wit very few solutions currently; namely, that air travel consumes vast amounts of fuel but has little to no GHG regulation (for international travel).

    Like

  2. Solar powered airplane sounds like the future trend for airplane industry. This solar powered airplane could gain market share in developed countries first, such as U.S., Canada and OECD countries, which major airlines throughout these countries could afford these new types of airplanes. Then, expands market to well developing countries, such as BRIC countries.

    Like

  3. It will be very interesting to see how this evolves, and the types of aircraft where solar technology can be applied. If solar can eventually be a solution for large passenger planes, this really changes an industry that currently has limited options for reducing GHG emissions.

    Like

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