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Clean Power solar plane

Published on November 17th, 2008 | by Ariel Schwartz

19

Solar-Powered Plane to Perform Test Flight

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November 17th, 2008 by  

solar plane

It’s hard enough to construct viable solar-powered vehicles, let alone airplanes. Nevertheless, the first solar-powered plane trip around the world is now one step closer to reality. A 1500 kilogram solar plane dubbed “Solar Impulse” will complete its first test flight next April. The plane, which has a 61 meter wingspan, will attempt to travel around the world in May 2011. It will go into commercial production the same year.

Solar Impulse’s solar cells are placed on the upper surface of its wings, while the underside is wrapped in film.

The plane’s solar system works by using 12,000 photovoltaic cells, each containing 130 micron monocrystalline silicon. Solar Impulse can fly in the dark by using a 400 kilogram deep cycle battery bank.

It will be interesting to see how the plane’s around-the-world attempt fares, but solar power will probably be relegated to small planes no matter what the outcome.

Photo Credit: Solar Impulse

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About the Author

was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a senior editor at Co.Exist. She has contributed to SF Weekly, Popular Science, Inhabitat, Greenbiz, NBC Bay Area, GOOD Magazine, and more. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.



  • Zee@GreenTravelReviews

    When I first read this I thought they were testing it on Boeings or something…but this little guy makes much more sense. I think this is extremely cool.

  • Pingback: Solar Impulse In Midst Of Setting Another Solar Airplane Record | CleanTechnica

  • Loy35

    Looking back over the history of software engineering, there is some indication that the types of questions have changed as the field matures. ,

  • http://is.gd/Fo2/316592163 web

    speeking of solar power, have any of you watched “what happened to the electric car?” it’s crazy…

    hopefully, things will change soon…

  • http://is.gd/Fo2/316592163 web

    speeking of solar power, have any of you watched “what happened to the electric car?” it’s crazy…

    hopefully, things will change soon…

  • Jordan Arsenault

    Planes flying above clouds.

    Lots of sun.

    Perfect!

  • Jordan Arsenault

    Planes flying above clouds.

    Lots of sun.

    Perfect!

  • http://www.zoomilife.com Electric Vehicle Blog

    That is very cool. I wonder how much weight this plane can lift. I bet you they already have stuff like this for the military – solar makes absolute sense for unmanned predators.

  • http://www.zoomilife.com Electric Vehicle Blog

    That is very cool. I wonder how much weight this plane can lift. I bet you they already have stuff like this for the military – solar makes absolute sense for unmanned predators.

  • http://writertotheworld.com Writer to the World

    Flying a solar-powered plane at night sounds like a bad joke, but I’d be listening carefully to the emergency instructions from the flight attendants that time!

    It’s hard to believe with so many applications for this technology that a significant portion of the American public still doesn’t realize that a transition to green energy is possible in a relatively short time.

    I guess we’ll just have to keep talking and talking until they get it. Good work Ariel.

  • http://writertotheworld.com Writer to the World

    Flying a solar-powered plane at night sounds like a bad joke, but I’d be listening carefully to the emergency instructions from the flight attendants that time!

    It’s hard to believe with so many applications for this technology that a significant portion of the American public still doesn’t realize that a transition to green energy is possible in a relatively short time.

    I guess we’ll just have to keep talking and talking until they get it. Good work Ariel.

  • http://www.carbonoffsetsdaily.com Christopher Keys

    It would be surprising if solar is able to be more valuable than other alternative fuels being developed, just due to the lift/weight problems in dealing with engine size and energy use for air flight.

  • http://www.carbonoffsetsdaily.com Christopher Keys

    It would be surprising if solar is able to be more valuable than other alternative fuels being developed, just due to the lift/weight problems in dealing with engine size and energy use for air flight.

  • Kelly

    That is really interesting. I love to see new advances in weaning our dependency on foreign oil. Here is a link to another article on a bio-friendly plane:

    http://suburbanjournals.stltoday.com/articles/2008/11/08/stcharles/news/1109stc-pokin0.txt

  • Kelly

    That is really interesting. I love to see new advances in weaning our dependency on foreign oil. Here is a link to another article on a bio-friendly plane:

    http://suburbanjournals.stltoday.com/articles/2008/11/08/stcharles/news/1109stc-pokin0.txt

  • http://www.totalsolarenergy.co.uk/solar-panel-inverter.html Total Solar Energy

    really cool. i don’t know if i’d want to go up in it though

  • http://www.totalsolarenergy.co.uk/solar-panel-inverter.html Total Solar Energy

    really cool. i don’t know if i’d want to go up in it though

  • Ari Lestariono

    Nice using solar, no more pollution caused by internal combustion or gas turbine and free energy. I vote for this blog!

  • Ari Lestariono

    Nice using solar, no more pollution caused by internal combustion or gas turbine and free energy. I vote for this blog!

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