Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg showed up on a recent episode of "60 Minutes", explaining to Bob Simon how they plan to make a voyage with their Solar Impulse around the world without using any fuel this spring. They have already taken test flights during the night and experienced both cold and darkness. Pilots Piccard (no relation to Jean Luc) and Borschberg plan to spend 20 days and nights to make the trek, storing energy in the day to get them through the nights. Check out the episode as the training, performance and mindsets of the two is fascinating viewing at the very least.
Saturday, the University of Michigan won this year's American Solar Car Challenge with Quantum. This is the seventh time that they have taken the prize. They began competing in 1990 and have built a total of 11 vehicles.
They are already working on their next car to participate in the 2013 World Solar Challenge, having placed 3rd four times. You can contact them for donations and because it is completely student run, even non-engineer types can volunteer.
The Solar Impulse made a successful transcontinental 20 hour trip from Madrid to Morocco last week. Balloonist Bertrand Piccard flew the plane that is fitted with 12,000 solar cells on its wings. The landing point was selected to bring attention to Morocco's soon to be constructed solar farm that will produce 2,000 megawatts of solar energy by 2020. The plane's next flight will be around the planet in 2014 with five stops included.
For water lovers and those with small budgets, living on a boat can be a fine option. This Dutch Bauhaus is located in London and runs solely on solar power. The barge is 15.4 meters in length, 3.66 x 14m inside and has a lounge/kitchen area, 2 cabins and bathroom. It features a 1.7kw PV system and electric motor that, when at rest, can be used for powering up appliances and other gadgets. Best of all, no nasty gas smell or messy repairs to keep the vessel going. We want one!
The planet's largest solar-powered boat has almost completed its trek around the earth. The Turanor has 700 panels and began its journey in 2010. It has not used the back-up diesel generators that were required for insurance reasons. Swiss company Planet Solar built the vessel for use as a marketing tool to encourage solar power. The Turanor will dock in Monaco this April.
Canada's Solar Ship may not replace the Goodyear Blimp, but it can fly after being filled with helium. Solar panels, like on the the Impulse, or onboard batteries car power it up. More importantly, if it had a leak and was air-filled only, it could still land safely. A 33 ft. prototype has already been tested and the company sees the airship as an aid for disaster relief, transferring medical supplies and environmental monitoring. We're thinking that the military would have limited usage, but you never know.
The Solar Impulse came to Paris last week to attend the air show there that is taking place this week. Perhaps the preflight was made just in case...as in just in case it tried to come earlier but couldn't due to inclement weather. Or as in the fact that although the plane is impressive in that it can operate without fuel and has a wing span of 64 meters, it can only move at a snail's pace of 44 mph. Ah well, if you are tooling around France this week, you can check it out for yourself.
Students at the University of New South Wales built a solar-powered car that broke the current speed record. The Sunswift IV (aka IVy) hit 56.85 mph, beating the previous record of 40.09 mph set in 1987. What made this a great day for the team was not only the fact that they performed on a mostly cloudy day, the miniscule Ivy ran solely on sun power, no batteries allowed.
A solar powered catamaran is endeavoring to circle the globe without the assistance of other fuel. Meant as a way to draw attention to the industry (and no doubt a kewl way to visit the planet,) the TÛRANOR PlanetSolar left Monaco in September, and is now in Switzerland. So far it has traveled about 7,000 nautical miles, about a quarter of the full journey. The 5,700 sq. ft. cat cost a whopping $17.5 million to build and you can follow its progress via the link or invest by picking up a t-shirt in its e-shop.
Owner Immo Ströher made this claim about the project, "It is my vision to see solar power take its rightful place - not only on rooftops, but also on the roads, seas and in the skies of the future." How noble!
Kyocera has begun production on Solar Cycle Stations, eco-friendly charging stations that will charge 6 bicycles simultaneously. At a humongous cost of $23,000 apiece, each has 3 solar panels, a maximum output of 79.8V and up to 1.14kWh per day.
The Plastiki, a boat made up of recycled materials, has successfully sailed from San Francisco to Sydney after a 4 month trek of 9,000 miles. During the trip, the catamaran sailed through the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a sea of waste between California and Hawaii. The hull is made of 12,500 plastic bottles and the mast is a recycled irrigation pipe. Everything is held together with an organic glue made from cashew husks and sugarcane. Plastiki gets its power from solar panels and windmills.
Ironically, expedition leader David de Rothschild wanted to recycle the boat after its voyage but instead it will now be displayed in Sydney's Maritime Museum.
The Solar Impulse Plane has made its first successful flight. The plane reached 5,500 ft. in altitude and performed a few test maneuvers during its airborne 87 minutes. After the event, pilot Markus Scherdel claimed it was an "intense moment." The team plans two more test flights before its around the world flight scheduled for 2012.
Designer Damien Grossemy's Zep'lin is a vertical flying sailboat conceived for Renault. Solar panels tilt towards the sun for energy and lithium ion batteries store the extra energy. Expected to be built by 2015, the vehicle will be used to promote the car company's electric cars.
When the Commonwealth Games begin in October in New Delhi, India, the government and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research have arranged for 1,000 solar powered rickshaws to carry the competitors around. The Soleckshaws are both pedal and motor vehicles that can move about 10-15 km/hr with a 240W,36 volt BLDC hub Motor. The CSIR believes this to be a demonstration of what they can do and hope that they will be utilized when the games are over.