The last barrier to greener transportation is up in the air and if these newly designed planes can get up there, the future of air travel may look decidedly different. While cars have been going green for decades, airplanes have remained behemoth fuel-gulping modes of transportation. EcoGeek put together a list of ways in which air travel is gretting greener...but there's a long ways to go.
That's bad news for anyone who has to travel for business reasons or can't resist that get-away to exotic locales. But while nowhere close to being ready for commercial use, there is some green in the distant horizon. A French and a Swiss company are both vying to complete the first viable solar-powered plane.
The Solar Impulse Project, which we've discussed previously is backed by Swiss adventurer Bertrand Piccard, is aiming to use only solar energy to keep its aircraft up both day and night. The Solar Impulse plane, which hopes to be about 1,500 kilogram of "take-off weight" is constructed around a skeleton of carbon fiber-honeycomb composite.
French company Lisa Airplanes is putting its efforts into the "Hy-Bird" project which plans to fly around the world with a 100 per cent clean electric airplane powered only by solar energy and hydrogen. For take-off, the Hy-Bird will use solar photovoltaic cells affixed on the wings and on the horizontal tail and for on-board power supply. A fuel cell will then fuel the aircraft for cruise flight and an electric engine will propel the plane.
Booking a seat on board won't happen any time soon. Both Hy-Bird and the Solar Impulse Project hope to take trial flights next year, but only one person will be on board. Meanwhile, unmanned solar airplanes are already in the air, with one that will be able to fly almost indefinitely planned for the near future.
written by Syahzul, May 05, 2008
written by Andy, May 06, 2008
written by Campbell, May 08, 2008
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