Top 10 Solar Powered Planes

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solar powered planes

Flying machines powered by the biggest of stars, the Sun. Well, the thought might still seem stemming from a scorching sci-fi movie, but its reality is much nearer than you thought. The solar powered planes are here to stay.

The environmental technology behind these flying aircrafts, to make maximum use of the largest energy source available to us, is still in its infancy, but growing at a fast pace for sure.

1. The Zephyr Solar Plane

The Zephyr solar plane, after flying for two continuous weeks over an Arizona army range, has now been successful in breaking the endurance record for an unmanned aircraft basically it being an effort to develop a self sufficient surveillance aircraft.

This solar plane is photovoltaic-powered and it made a new record of 336 flying hours beating the previous world record of 30 hours but when it’s going to be commercialized is still suspense!

solar powered plane

It is a fairly large but light weight plane which absorbs solar rays during the day and stores the extra energy in lithium sulphur batteries to be used during night.

There is no doubt that the powerful solar power can prove to be a boon to the earthlings if dealt with rightly!

2. Hy-bird Solar Hydrogen Plane

The Hy-bird plane is a lightweight, hybrid solar plane made out of lightweight carbon fiber.

solar powered plane

The main power source will be from Lithium-polymer batteries and solar photo-voltaics will provide about 10% of its power. This might seem unreal but is soon going to be a reality by next year.

3. The Sunseeker II

Designed by Eric Raymond, the Sunseeker II has an ultra light shape and features solar panels on very small wing areas.

solar plane

Set to fly in Freidrichshafen, Germany between April 2nd to 5th 2010, and in Torino, Italy between June 6th to 14th 2010, the Sunseeker II solar plane is also expected to fly in the Swiss Alps, Australian Dolomites, Slovenia, France, and even Spain.

4. Centurion

The Centurion is a remotely piloted, solar-powered, lightweight wing aircraft.

solar powered plane

The technology used is such that the application of solar power is for a longer duration and for a high-altitude flight. With a wing-span of 206 feet, the Centurion also has an 8-foot chord giving the wing an aspect ratio of 26 to 1.

5. The Solar Impulse

The Solar Impulse is a propeller plane which nearly has 12,000 solar cells on its 207 foot carbon-fiber light weight wings.

solar plane

This solar plane has proved its flight in darkness and the cells stored enough energy between its take off at 7 a.m. and nightfall the next night to get through the whole night at a maximum altitude of 28,000 feet.

6. Odysseus Solar Plane:

The Odysseus solar plane is an autonomous surveillance aircraft which boast of the ability to fly above earth for a straight five years and getting its power from nothing but its solar panels.

solar plane

The way it’s made is a unique design in itself with a combination of three airplanes of 164 feet long wing shaped structures which are launched separately and combine after being in the calmer stratosphere. Measuring 492 feet after assembly, the Odysseus can fly 140 miles per hour at an altitude of 60,000 to 90,000 feet.

Still in the concept stage, the Odysseus is expected to go real in five years, although with a smaller version to start with.

7. Solong

This Solong UAV is a solar powered unmanned aerial vehicle and has set a record by flying a little over 24 hours fueled only by solar power and battery.

solar plane

It has a 4.75m wingspan and weighs a little over 10.8 kgs flying without noise, consumes fossil fuel and is a no pollution aerial vehicle.

8. Sky Sailor

The Sky Sailor solar plane might not have achieved the world record it has set out to achieve but nevertheless is a valuable attempt. Although it was aimed to fly for about 24 hours and be driven only by solar energy, it had to land again after sunset.

solar plane

It is a light weight solar plane weighing only 2.5kgs and has a 3.2m wingspan with 216 solar cells covering the upper surface of its wings.

9. Solar Challenger:

The Solar Challenger weighs only 205 pounds and has the world record for the farthest, highes and longest solar powered manned flight.

solar plane

It stood aloft for 5 hours and 23 minutes completing the 163 mile trek from Corneille-en-Verin Airport, north of Paris, France to Manston Royal Air Force Base in Manston, United Kingdom.

10. Pathfinder Plus

Originally the Pathfinder, the Pathfinder Plus solar plane has a new center wing panel unlike the Pathfinder with an increased wingspan of 121 feet.

solar powered plane

Fitted with newer high efficiency solar cells and other improvements, the Pathfinder Plus achieved its set goal by flying a record 80,201 feet.

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