In 1999 Bertrand Piccard became the first person to travel around the world nonstop in a balloon. The trip used a huge quantity of fuel and resources and left Piccard determined to find a new, more efficient, self-sufficient method for making a repeat attempt. So, in 2009, after many years of research and design, Piccard unveiled the Solar Impulse with his business partner André Borschberg.
The Solar Impulse is a solar powered plane that uses no other energy source other than the sun. In 2010 it performed a 26 hour, overnight flight over Switzerland, and then in earlier this year it set a world record for completing an International flight from Spain to Morocco.
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The aircraft has the ability to fly throughout the night due to its incredibly lightweight design, and energy efficient battery system. 12,000 solar cells covering its 63 metre wingspan store energy in the batteries during the day for use during the night.
Piccard explained that, “these cells capture the energy of the sun and transform it into electricity. This electricity goes simultaneously to the engine and to the batteries. Then we reach the next sunrise, and we capture the sun again, and we can continue, theoretically forever.”
CS monitor write that “Borschberg and Piccard hope to complete the first purely solar-powered flight across the US next spring. The entrepreneurs’ plan is for the Impulse to take a 20-day trip around the globe in 2015.”
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com