Do you imagine completing a 62 hour flight with a gallon of gasoline? No? Impossible, right? How about half a gallon? Less? Well it obviously is impossible for a airplane to fly without any fuel to propel its flight, but what about solar energy? Arguably the most common form of eco-friendly form of energy available for mankind today and the cheapest too (compared to other forms of obtaining energy). Then why aren’t we using it more of it?
That’s probably what the dream-driven project Solar Impulse, asked itself and questioned until they realized that nothing is stopping them from creating technology that would sound far fetched and even, impossible! That’s why Solar Impulse took the whole world by surprise by creating a plane that would rely solely on solar energy and accomplishing something that has more of a scifi setting than real science. This plane did not only fly, but also did it for around three days without stopping and broke several world records, of which longest duration of a solar powered flight and longest nonstop pilot only flight are two of them.
The plane was built with carbon fiber to keep it lightweight enough to fly without that much energy and it uses exactly 17,258 solar cells on its wings that recharges the four lithium polymer batteries, its maximum speed is 90 miles per hour (144.841 Km/H) which is the seventh of that of a Boeing 747.
“Its today what clean technologies can achieve impossible things like flying day and night with no fuel… You know Mr. Secretary General what you are doing in New York today, is more than protecting the environment, it is the launch of the clean technology revolution.” [sic] Those are Bertrand Piccard’s, the Solar Impulse’ pilot from Hawaii to California, own words about what is currently happening with, not only these technologies, but the feeling of dedication and compromise we have to creating a better, cleaner tomorrow. It’s inspiring and wonderful to hear that people and, most importantly, companies are giving huge leaps towards energy-efficient machines and technologies that help us maintain our environment.
You can go check out their YouTube account and watch them takeoff from Nanjing China to Hawaii which has already racked nearly four and half million views from people all around the world realizing the meaning of this innovation. Realizing that we may not be using solar power all that much but also that this is not stopping two crazy men from Switzerland to take the first steps that will welcome an era of clean technologies driven by the idea that “If people call your idea possible, you’re not dreaming big enough”.
And to answer my own question; Why aren’t we using more of these types of technologies? There may be many answers, like major companies not having faith in this type of energy, the lack of attention, the access to something cheaper like fossil fuels, but none of that matters now. What’s important is that the transition from conventional fuels to environmentally responsible energies has already begun and we can witness it right today.