The entire world is promoting the use of greener energy. Global aviation industries are investing in the development of solar powered aircraft. Over time, the use of renewable to fly planes and other aircraft could save time and preserve the environment.
Solar Impulse 2
The Solar Impulse 2 is a Swiss built solar-powered plane that has taken off from the United Arab Emirates on a quest to circle the globe fueled only by photonic energy.
Seventeen thousand solar panels cover its two hundred thirty-six foot wing span.These panels convert energy from the sun’s rays to charge the lithium ion batteries.
Each of the plane’s propellers is controlled by electric motors linked to the batteries.
Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard plan to take turns piloting the aircraft during their mission. The plane’s power is, of course, completely dependent on the sun to keep it moving, so this can create a challenge.
The batteries must receive enough charge during idealistic sunny hours to maintain flight during the night and throughout cloudy weather when sun rays may be blocked or completely absent. If the batteries are incapable of conserving enough solar energy, it could result in failure of the mission.
The designers had their work cut out for them as they needed to formulate a strategy for building that would produce a machine that was lightweight, efficient, and durable.
The best materials went into constructing the motors. Strong permanent magnets were installed to promote the turning movement of the motor. The Solar Impulse 2’s engine was built with different electrical steel that is very thin and highly efficient in conducting electricity.
Since the most efficient electric motors also tend to be quite heavy, constructing a model that would be functional for this type of project would take skill, research, and advanced testing.
The plane’s frame has to be able to support the weight of the motor as well as all other components on board. Since a good engine may require a sturdier frame, this could mean a heavier frame might be necessary to carry the excess weight.
That, in turn, could dictate the need for larger batteries, so this creates a circular stream of aviation issues. It took designers years to address these problems and get the solar powered aircraft in the condition it is today.
Changes in Aviation
Solar powered aircraft is not just for travel. An unmanned aerial vehicle known as Zephyr has broken the world record for being in flight for the longest uninterrupted time span in history.
Built as a cheaper alternative to satellites, this drone will fly closer to the earth’s surface than a satellite launched into space. Because of its proximity to Earth, it can perform more proficiently in communication and relay technology.
Even though the Solar Impulse 2 will like to circumnavigate the globe without any trouble, it doesn’t mean older model airplanes will soon be replaced by solar-powered aircraft.
The technology to make solar panels on airplanes is improving over time, but it may be quite a while before the type of energy needed to support the weight of a full crew and their luggage can be available to the public. For now, solar powered UAVs are the scientific devices to follow as they are capable of facilitating the greatest advances in technology within the next few years.