Solar Impulse is a project to develop long-range solar powered aircrafts, lead by a Swiss team. The first Solar Impulse project saw a solar powered plane traverse the United States. Apparently that was only the beginning.
During a gathering for VIPs and industry leaders held in Switzerland’s Payerne Airfield, the Solar Impulse 2 was revealed. The 72-meter wide airplane has a wingspan wider than a Boeing (NYSE: BA) 747 but weighs only 2.5 tons. The Solar Impulse 2 flies at a top speed of 87 mph, and is set to fly around the world next year. Without using a single drop of carbon fuel, the Solar Impulse 2 derives 100% of its power from solar cells that line the airplane, and stores the energy in batteries so that it may fly through the night.
The project has received over $124 million in funding from the likes of luxury watchmaker, Omega SA, and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), who hopped on board last year. However, the Swiss team admits that additional funding is needed to complete the project. They believe that the implications of the a successful Solar Impulse will lead to applications of their technology in all aspects of life.
“In the next years, what we’ll see is the same technology dropping into the automotive industry, dropping into the refrigeration industry, and everybody will be getting the benefit,” said Richard Northcote, head communications and public affairs at Bayer MaterialScience.