Solar Impulse – Tougher than it Looked

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The record-breaking flight from Nagoya, Japan to Kalaeloa, Hawaii by Andre’ Borschberg in Solar Impulse had more difficulties than were immediately apparent to even the most involved observer.  During the first climb out of Nagoya, some of the cells mounted behind each motor experienced overheating, now attributed to over-insulation.  High-density foam packed around the cells was apparently too effective for even the freezing temperatures at altitude and caused the batteries to become warmer than desired. As explained on the Solar Impulse web site, “The energy collected by the solar cells is stored in lithium polymer batteries, whose energy density is optimized to 260 [Watt-hours per kilogram]. The batteries are insulated by high-density foam and mounted in the four engine nacelles, …

Solar Impulse Makes It to New York Early

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

It’s hard to believe that the Solar Impulse has been on its Cross America tour since May 3, but its early touchdown at New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport late Saturday night was cause for elation on at least two counts. First, as the Solar Impulse team points out, “For the first time a plane capable of flying day and night powered exclusively by solar energy has crossed the USA from the West to the East Coasts without using a single drop of fuel.”  As we love to point out, though, it’s not the first time a solar-powered airplane has made the trip.  Eric Raymond did it in 21 hops in 1990 in Sunseeker 1, using the technology …

European Flights for Solar Impulse

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Solar Impulse, the first solar airplane to fly overnight (26 hours – minutes), will voyage from its native Switzerland to Lausanne and Brussels, Belgium – its first European destination – on  28 April 2011.  The airplane will be displayed in the European capital from 23 to 29 May 2011 and will then attempt to fly on to Paris-Le Bourget, where it is eagerly awaited as the “Special Guest” of the 49th International Paris Air Show from 20 to 26 June 2011.HB-SIA’s press release continues, “In 2008, even before the solar airplane existed, the European Commission had publicly sponsored Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg’s project. Three years later, by accomplishing the first flight through a whole day and night, lasting over 26 hours, without using fuel, …