Spreading the word about Swiss solar success

Spreading the word about Swiss solar success

Viewers of the BBC's Breakfast programme may have spotted the Centre's Dr Neil Ashton while eating their cornflakes this Saturday morning.

Neil was talking about the Swiss Solar Impulse project in which Si2, a revolutionary airplane that flies with no fuel and is propelled only by the energy of the sun, is attempting the first ever round-the-world solar flight.

This pioneering endeavor was considered impossible by many when initiated 15 years ago and is designed to demonstrate that clean technologies can power amazing achievements.  The project is the brainchild of Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg who have not only driven the development of the plane but are also taking turns piloting the vehicle on its epic journey.

Si2 is a concentration of clean technologies a genuine flying laboratory. It is a single-seater aircraft made of carbon fiber that has a 72m / 236ft wingspan (larger than a Boeing 747) for a weight of 2300kg / 5100lb (the equivalent of an empty family car). The 17,248 solar cells built into the wing power the four batteries (38.5kWh per battery) that in turn power the four electric engines (13.5kW / 17.5hp each) and the propellers with renewable energy. The plane is therefore capable of saving a maximum amount of energy during the day and flying throughout the night on batteries. Si2 requires zero fuel and has virtually unlimited autonomy: theoretically, Si2 could fly forever and is only limited by the pilot’s sustainability.

You can read more about the Solar Impulse project on their website.