Jump to content
Political Discussion Forums
jacee

Solar-powered flight around the world

Recommended Posts

Solar Impulse completes historic round-the-world flight

Wow! I had no idea this technology was operational.

An aircraft powered by solar energy landed in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates early Tuesday, after flying 40,000 kilometres around the world without the use of fossil fuels.

...

The aircraft is uniquely powered by 17,248 solar cells that transfer energy to four electrical motors that power the plane's propellers. It runs on four lithium polymer batteries at night. The plane's wingspan stretches 72 metres to catch the sun's energy.

The future is here. Awesome!

And the ships ...

solar-and-wind-powered-cruise-ship-to-sail-in-2020

Cars and trucks are still the biggest challenge.

US data:

http://needtoknow.nas.edu/energy/energy-use/transportation/

By far the largest share is consumed by cars, light trucks, and motorcyclesabout 58% in 2012,

followed by other trucks (21%),

aircraft (9%),

boats and ships (3%),

and trains and buses (3%).

Pipelines account for 3%

and military uses for 2%.

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The future is here. Awesome!

A tiny plane with no climate control and no bathroom that takes days to make an ocean crossing. I would rather take a ship. The only thing this effort demonstrates is how woefully inadequate solar cells are as a means for powering transportation.

Fossil fuels are going to be the only option for practical air transport for the foreseeable future.

Edited by TimG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like the Rutan Voyager, an interesting technical achievement but hard to see much in the way of practical applications for manned flight or anything else that required much of a payload. Drones maybe.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been kind of following this trip, and it's nice to see solar can be used for long distance flights, mind you it only works on this scale for now. But at least it can only improve going forward.

Happy to see that this managed to go without any major complications.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know your a dinosaur when you poo-poo any new advancements in technology just because the technology can't do everything right this instant!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Like the Rutan Voyager, an interesting technical achievement but hard to see much in the way of practical applications for manned flight or anything else that required much of a payload. Drones maybe.

I still think it is difficult to predict the future:

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." - Thomas Watson, president of IBM, 1943

"Television won't be able to hold on to any market it captures after the first six months. People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” - Darryl Zanuck, executive at 20th Century Fox, 1946

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." - Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977

"Almost all of the many predictions now being made about 1996 hinge on the Internet's continuing exponential growth. But I predict the Internet will soon go spectacularly supernova and in 1996 catastrophically collapse." - Robert Metcalfe, founder of 3Com, 1995

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know your a dinosaur when you poo-poo any new advancements in technology just because the technology can't do everything right this instant!

The trouble with movies is they make science seem like magic and leaves many naive people believing that any conceivable technology is just a matter of time and effort. Magic does not exist in the real world. It takes a certain amount of energy to keep a mass into the air at a given airspeed and there is a maximum amount of energy that can be collected by solar cells on a plane. The puts hard upper limits on what one could do with 'solar aircraft' even if one assumes 100% efficient solar cells and ultralight non-metal air frames. Edited by TimG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The trouble with movies is they make science seem like magic and leaves many naive people believing that any conceivable technology is just a matter of time and effort. Magic does not exist in the real world. It takes a certain amount of energy to put a mass into the air and there is a maximum amount of energy that can be collected by solar cells on a plane. The puts hard upper limits on what one could do with 'solar aircraft' even if one assumes 100% efficient solar cells and ultralight non-metal air frames.

Well, you could always have orbiting arrays of lenses that track solar aircraft in the air and focus solar radiation at them at greater intensity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, you could always have orbiting arrays of lenses that track solar aircraft in the air and focus solar radiation at them at greater intensity.

Or you could go with a reliable, faster and cheaper fossil fuel powered jet engine. Once we convert the the ground based fleet to electrical and the sea based fleet to nuclear we will have more than enough fossil fuels to power air transport for the foreseeable future. Edited by TimG

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Or you could go with a reliable fossil fuel powered jet engine. Once we convert the the ground based fleet to electrical and the sea based fleet to nuclear we will have more than enough fossil fuels to power air transport for the foreseeable future.

Realistically, it seems like fossil fuels will be plentiful for the next several decades even if we don't convert anything. New reserves of fossil fuels are still being discovered faster than existing ones are consumed. The main current argument against fossil fuels is due to the pollution and CO2 they produce, not that we are about to run out.

As for nuclear powered shipping... environmentalists would rather see the world choke on CO2 than support the use of nuclear reactors, so not much chance of this. But if we suddenly did re-embrace nuclear technology, it could be applied to aircraft almost as readily as ships.

Edited by Bonam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nuclear fusion?

Not even necessary. Existing fission technology can be used to power aircraft. There have been extensive studies and experiments into nuclear powered jet engines, including the production of several functional prototypes back in the 50s. The programs were abandoned as conventional jet engines produced the needed performance at a lower cost. The primary advantage of nuclear powered aircraft would have been in their ability to stay in the air for months at a time, but this ability was deemed not necessary for the purposes of the day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The main current argument against fossil fuels is due to the pollution and CO2 they produce, not that we are about to run out.

Which should not be an issue if fossil use is limited to air transport. My point is there is absolutely no need to replace current air transport modes with a slower/less flexible technology.

But if we suddenly did re-embrace nuclear technology, it could be applied to aircraft almost as readily as ships.

I see a plane carrying a reactor as a much greater risk than land or sea based reactors. I don't see how any of the currently available tech could be made safe enough to survive a crash without a massive leak of radiation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know your a dinosaur when you poo-poo any new advancements in technology just because the technology can't do everything right this instant!

I think it's cool that someone was able to build a solar powered aircraft and fly it around the world but the purpose of flight is to move things from A to B. Even if solar panels become 100% efficient it will take acres of them to duplicate the power generated in a jet engine and the power can't be consistent. It will be limited by time of day, cloud cover and the very latitude you are flying at. The electric motors required to produce the thrust and batteries to allow it to operate at night will need to be huge. Solar has lots of applications but its use in aviation will always be quite limited.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No one claims that solar panels will be running 747s, but this type of innovation and pushing of technological boundaries can only help the move towards sustainable energy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No one claims that solar panels will be running 747s, but this type of innovation and pushing of technological boundaries can only help the move towards sustainable energy.

I don't disagree but flight is all about power vs weight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A tiny plane with no climate control and no bathroom that takes days to make an ocean crossing. I would rather take a ship. The only thing this effort demonstrates is how woefully inadequate solar cells are as a means for powering transportation.

Fossil fuels are going to be the only option for practical air transport for the foreseeable future.

First round the world flight without fossil fuels ...

There are always the naysayers ...

the-curiously-underwhelming-reaction-to-the-wright-brothers-first-flight

Later that day on a fourth try, Wilbur was able to fly a little over 850 feet. What was it like to fly that first airplane?

...

Surprisingly, there was little mention of the flight in the Dayton newspapers and the Associated Press turned the story down.

...

The government, to whom they offered the airplane first, turned them down with a virtual form letter expressing no interest.

Four years later in France ...

Doubt about the Wrights' achievement vanished; people were aware that another era had begun.

Read more: http://www.afr.com/lifestyle/arts-and-entertainment/books/the-curiously-underwhelming-reaction-to-the-wright-brothers-first-flight-20150812-gixaom#ixzz4FbmPVO2E

Follow us: @FinancialReview on Twitter | financialreview on Facebook

You'll someday realize the significance, TimG.

Or not.

There are still people using horses and buggies too.

.

Edited by jacee

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it's cool that someone was able to build a solar powered aircraft and fly it around the world but the purpose of flight is to move things from A to B. Even if solar panels become 100% efficient it will take acres of them to duplicate the power generated in a jet engine and the power can't be consistent. It will be limited by time of day, cloud cover and the very latitude you are flying at. The electric motors required to produce the thrust and batteries to allow it to operate at night will need to be huge. Solar has lots of applications but its use in aviation will always be quite limited.

Sounds like a challenge.

Remember those words!

:)

.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like a challenge.

Remember those words!

:)

.

Like i said, even if solar cells become 100% efficient (which they won't) they won't produce anywhere near the power for their weight and size as existing power plants. Solar will have some applications in aviation but they will be quite specialized.

Some people believe there is some sort of magic silver bullet to replace fossil fuels. That is extremely unlikely and if there is, we haven't found it yet. What we will end up with is a variety of different power sources that can be used for different applications. Solar will be one of them.

Remember those words.

Edited by Wilber

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know your a dinosaur when you poo-poo any new advancements in technology just because the technology can't do everything right this instant!

It's called energy density, orders of magnitude, impossible, those dinosaurs as you call them, they are just people who live in the real world, and they seem to be a lot smarter than you.

Edited by poochy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You know your a dinosaur when you poo-poo any new advancements in technology just because the technology can't do everything right this instant!

We are constantly told that climate change and environmental pollution are problems that are in need of immediate remedial action. We have to be sure these new advancements are not smoke and mirrors, and are not brought forth at the cost of further damage to the environment.

In addition to silicon tetrachloride (an extremely toxic substance that reacts violently with water, causes skin burns, and is a respiratory, skin and eye irritant), the manufacture of solar panels also produces and involves the use of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and nitric acid, toxic phosphine and arsine gas, phosphorous oxychloride, phosphorous trichloride, boron bromide and boron trichloride, as well as lead. Also, sulfur hexaflouride is used in the reactors used in silicone production.

The Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change considers sulfur hexafluoride to be the most potent greenhouse gas per molecule; one ton of sulfur hexafluoride has a greenhouse effect equivalent to that of 25,000 tons of CO2.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No one claims that solar panels will be running 747s, but this type of innovation and pushing of technological boundaries can only help the move towards sustainable energy.

Tell us, exactly how did this flight do that? Do you think there isnt already a lot of people working to make solar cells more efficient? This flight is just another media show, it's designed to impress exactly who you would expect, people who in actuality know little or nothing about science. People who seem to think that 'Star Trek' will someday be possible, stupid people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Solar has lots of applications but its use in aviation will always be quite limited.

Given that the aircraft in question was able to carry a pilot around at a speed of up to 80 km/h, it could have applications for personal air travel / recreation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We are constantly told that climate change and environmental pollution are problems that are in need of immediate remedial action. We have to be sure these new advancements are not smoke and mirrors, and are not brought forth at the cost of further damage to the environment.

In addition to silicon tetrachloride (an extremely toxic substance that reacts violently with water, causes skin burns, and is a respiratory, skin and eye irritant), the manufacture of solar panels also produces and involves the use of sodium hydroxide or potassium hydroxide, hydrochloric acid, sulfuric acid, and nitric acid, toxic phosphine and arsine gas, phosphorous oxychloride, phosphorous trichloride, boron bromide and boron trichloride, as well as lead. Also, sulfur hexaflouride is used in the reactors used in silicone production.

What amounts of these compounds are released into the atmosphere per kW of solar cells manufactured?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What amounts of these compounds are released into the atmosphere per kW of solar cells manufactured?

I'm certainly no expert in this field, here's a link to the article by Solar Industry Magazine which contains the information in my above post. There's no mention of amounts, however it is stated that it's important that an alternative to sulfur hexaflouride be found.

It is imperative that a replacement for sulfur hexafluoride be found, because accidental or fugitive emissions will greatly undermine the reductions in greenhouse gas emissions gained by using solar power.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...