The true power of solar energy never ceases to amaze us here at Solargain.
And its seemingly limitless potential is about to be witnessed on a global scale with two Swiss pilots attempting the first flight around the world in a solar-powered plane.
That’s right, the plane will soar over the entire circumference of planet Earth over five historic months on nothing but clean, sustainable, renewable solar energy – not a drop of fuel needed here.
Solar Impulse 2 is the state-of-the-art solar-powered plane in question. The plane is ultra-light (no heavier than a standard family car) largely due to a carbon fibre construct. Its wingspan, however, is as wide as the largest passenger airline (at 72m) and features more than 17,000 solar cells!
Solar Impulse 2, which took 12 years to develop, took off from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates on Monday 9 March with the aim off completing the voyage in the Omani capital of Muscat.
Mission pilot, Bertrand Piccard, hopes to boost public enthusiasm for renewable energy sources and technologies that reduce dependence on fossil fuels.
‘Miracles can be achieved with renewables such as solar power,’ said Piccard.
‘We want to show that we can fly day and night in an aircraft without a drop of fuel.’
The journey will be arduous for Piccard and co-pilot Andre Borscheberg. The pilots will only be able to sleep for 20 minutes at a time before having to check the plane’s instruments.
Not to mention a rather small cabin size that fluctuates in temperatures in an instant – this isn’t a ride for the claustrophobic.
So, how and what do the pilots eat inside such a cosy cabin?
None other than Nestlé has developed high-tech airline food to fuel the pilots on their record-breaking trip.
The company has been working with the Swiss duo for the last four years to create nutrient-dense food that’s healthy, tasty and suitably packaged.
‘The plane has no fuel but the pilots have to sustain themselves, and this is what we’re best at,’ said Stefan Catsicas, Nestlé’s Chief Technology Officer.
‘The first and uttermost priority is to support the pilots… and to find a diet that would sustain them from an energy point of view, and at the same time would taste well.’
A variety of specially designed meals have been provided along with Nestlé water and Nestle coffee – a whole lot of coffee, we’re tipping.
Solargain salutes the entire Solar Impulse 2 team and we’ll be sure to provide updates on the voyage’s progress. Good luck guys!