Solar Airplane

The day is not far when we will run out of non-renewable energy resources which we are now taking for granted. The day might come as early as in 2050. To cut down on these energy resources and provide a bypass to the survival, many new devices and objects are being designed which run on renewable sources of energy.
One such project is solar aircrafts. As difficult as it may sound, it is uneasy to believe that such an aircraft has been made by the scientists that run on the fuel by the solar energy available to us in plenty. Imagine the world if we could produce such planes on commercial scale for commercial purposes, It would reduce the cost of the fuel that is spent each year on traveling and flying by several million dollars which will be a great boost to the economy.



FIRST SOLAR AIRCRAFT:
SOLAR IMPULSE-I

One such project was the Swiss aircraft IMPULSE-1. It was an experimental aircraft project. It was planned by a Swiss engineer and businessman and a Swiss aeronaut and psychiatrist. The aim was to design an aircraft that can circumnavigate the entire world using only the solar energy. Such a plan was started by the Swiss company and is still produced. The first aircraft IMPULSE-1 was a monoplane meaning had only one seat for the driver. This aircraft consisted of a non-pressurized cockpit and a single wing. This wing was made of carbon fibers in a honeycomb fashion to keep it as light as possible. Under the wing were 4 nacelles, with a set of polymer batteries.  The upper surface of the wing consisted of photovoltaic cells arranged in panels. These generate electricity to run the plane during the day as well as store the energy to utilized at night. Apart from this, the plane uses the potential energy during the day to power the plane at night.

It took its first flight in 2009 which was a test flight. The plane remained low at altitude and was tested for few 100 meters. After that it had a diurnal flight in 2010 for a certainly high altitude. It had its first international flight thereafter in 2011 and intercontinental in 2012. It had a cost US flight in 2013.


SOLAR IMPULSE-2

 It was solely designed for the purpose of going around the earth.  There were a lot of challenges this plane was facing. It was supposed to traverse across oceans and continents for days and nights together without any fuel.
The aircraft was supposed to be made of light material as light as weighing about the weight of a car  so that it could fly with least energy consumption.

A second aircraft construction was started in 2011 itself and was completed in 2014. In fact, it was delayed due to the dismemberment of the plane during its test flight in 2012. With more solar cells, more motor power and non-pressurized cockpit with an autopilot mode was an improvisation on the previous craft and also provided for trans-oceanitic and trans-continental flights. It had a flying laboratory with all the clean technologies. It was named IMPULSE-2.
This plane implied for circumnavigating around the earth but this plan was delayed from 2012 to 2015 due to its repair purposes in Abu Dhabi. The route which this aircraft followed was in the northern hemisphere of the earth. The initial plan while navigating included 12 stops but later on it was increased to 13 stops. The longest of the distance traversed non-stop was over the two huge oceans which were about 5 nights and 5 days. The flight of this aircraft had 2 stops in India in Ahmadabad and Varanasi where it was welcomed with great zeal and enthusiasm.
It was not the first solar plane, but the first to fly for days and nights and also first to cross oceans with 5 days and nights of continuous running on no fuel using only the energy stored in its batteries. The goal was that if an airplane can fly several days and nights in a row with no fuel, then clean technologies can be used on the ground to reduce our energy consumption, and create profits and jobs.


FUTURE SCOPE: UNMANNED AIRCRAFTS
The next project taken up by this team in fact includes construction of unmanned air crafts that can work to communicate and transfer information, agriculture etc.  Like satellites with improvement that these will also be able to run certain applications which is an advantage over the satellites.
Solar impulse was not build to carry passenger, but to carry messages.
It can be well said that it would be a great advancement and deal of technology if we could successfully utilize something we take for granted and available to us in abundance- the renewable sources of

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