On April 21, 2016, after flying over 12,400 miles powered by solar power and wintering in Honolulu, HI, the Solar Impulse airplane began the next phase of the Round the World flight mission, led by Swiss co-founders and pilots Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg. The Solar Impulse 2 solar airplane is the first of its kind, flying day and night without fuel or polluting emissions to demonstrate the ability of clean technologies, including a focus on energy storage.
Solar Impulse is equipped with 17,000 solar cells that absorb energy during daytime to supply power to a 2,077-pound lithium battery used during the night. The plane (shown below) has now embarked on the next leg of the journey and is on track to circumnavigate the globe during the summer of 2016 — another feat no solar powered plane has successfully completed.
The Si2 Round-The-World flight took off from Abu Dhabi (UAE), in March 2015 and reached Hawaii after having covered 19,957 kilometers. The route included stops in Muscat, Oman; Ahmedabad and Varanasi, India; Mandalay, Myanmar; Chongqing and Nanjing, China, and Tokyo, Japan.
In July 2015, the plane was grounded in Hawaii after completing the most grueling leg of this around the world journey. Damage to certain parts of the four 70 liter lithium polymer batteries, attached to the plane’s wings required the batteries to be replaced.
From Hawaii, Si2 is currently flying across stopping in Phoenix, the Midwest, and New York City at JFK.
After crossing the Atlantic Ocean, the final legs include a stopover in Southern Europe or North Africa before completing the Round-The-World flight at its final destination in Abu Dhabi.
“We want to show that clean technology and renewable energy can achieve the unthinkable,” said Bertrand Piccard, pilot and chairman of the program. “We want youth, leaders, organizations and policymakers to understand that what Solar Impulse can achieve in the air, everyone can accomplish on the ground in their everyday lives. Renewable energy can become an integral part of our lives, and together, we can help save our planet’s natural resources.”
Schindler Elevator Corporation is a main partner in the project, along with ABB, Solvay, and OMEGA. “We are so incredibly proud to be a part of this historic mission,” said Greg Ergenbright, president, Schindler Elevator Corporation USA. “This partnership is the perfect embodiment of Schindler’s ongoing investment in innovative technology for sustainable mobility. Bertrand, André and the entire Solar Impulse team continue to inspire us in our relentless pursuit of trailblazing technology that safely moves more people with less energy.”
Other firms involved in Solar Impulse include: Covestro (formerly Bayer MaterialScience) and Google are among the Official Partners; McKinsey & Company (an Official Supporter); and SunPower and Siemens PLM Software (among the Official Suppliers). A full list can be found here.