Clear across the USA – with nothing but sun in the tank

March 29, 2013 by  
Filed under Solar Energy Tips

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The FINANCIAL — Solar Impulse, the ultra-lightweight aircraft with materials from Bayer
MaterialScience on board, is facing yet another performance test: to fly
clear across the United States powered solely by solar energy.

 

The unprecedented flight from the Pacific to the Atlantic is scheduled to take place in multiple stages beginning this May. It is another important step toward the aircraft’s ultimate mission scheduled for 2015: to become the first manned aircraft to circumnavigate the globe without any fuel.

As Bayer AG said, to make that vision possible, Bayer MaterialScience is collaborating closely with the Swiss Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, co-founders of the Solar Impulse project. “With this cooperation we are truly living our motto – ‘Bayer: Science for a Better Life’ – as we make progress together toward more energy-efficient transportation solutions in the future,” said Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer MaterialScience.


Among the high-performance products and solutions the company provides to the plane are polyurethane rigid foams for the wing tips, motor gondolas and cabin as well as polycarbonate films for the cabin window. In addition, adhesive and coating based on raw materials from Bayer MaterialScience are used in several places. The company uses such materials also to serve other markets and industries, including lightweighting for automotive, insulation for building and construction and thermal management for consumer electronics.

“The pioneering Solar Impulse mission is the ideal platform to demonstrate how Bayer’s innovation can contribute to society’s needs,” said Richard Northcote, head of sustainability, Bayer MaterialScience. The company has developed new solutions and applications for its materials and proven they can perform in the most strenuous conditions, Northcote added. “And, like Solar Impulse, Bayer MaterialScience is committed to continuously reducing energy consumption while using clean technologies.”


Solar Impulse’s scheduled flight from San Francisco at the Pacific coast via Phoenix, Dallas and Washington to New York City at the Atlantic coast will be its longest mission to date. During the day, 12,000 solar cells on the surface of the aircraft power four electric motors and charge four lithium polymer batteries, enabling the aircraft to fly with solar energy during the night.

Currently, a second aircraft is under construction which will be used for the 2015 flight around the world. For this purpose, it has to be even more lightweight than the current plane. Bayer MaterialScience contributes to that with additional material innovations, such as an extremely high-performance new insulating material for the cabin.

 

 

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