Adventurer to Ride Photovoltaic (PV) cells Across the Heavens in 2012

Recently I blogged about PlanetSolar, the boat that will use a whole lot of photovoltaic (PV) cells to make a round-the-world trip by sea in 2010.

Now I'm reading over at CleanTech.com about adventurer Bertrand Piccard, famous for having made the first non-stop round-the-world balloon flight, and how he intends to fly a solar-powered plane around the world in 36 hours, thanks to 11,628 photovoltaic cells (10,748 on the wing, 880 on the horizontal stabilizer).

Impulse
Image credit: BBC

Notably, the efficiency of the PV cells used on both PlanetSolar and Piccard's HB-SIA prototype will be 22%.

According to a download available at Piccard's site, the prototype has the wingspan of an Airbus A340, the weight of a family car, and the power of a scooter.

The project, SolarImpulse, just unveiled the HB-SIA solar aircraft, a prototype 6 years in the making, that Piccard will use for test flights leading up to 2012 and a round-the-world solo flight, one that will "retrace, using solar energy, some of the great firsts in the history of flight."

I love historically-infused copy like that.

HB-SIA Specs:
Power: 4x10 hp electric engines
Average speed: 44 mph (70 km/h)
Max altitude: 27,900 ft (8500 m)
Weight: 3,527 lbs (1600 kg)
Take-off speed: 22 mph (35 km/h)

For more info on this project, check out their informative set of FAQ's.

BP.jpg

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