Sunday, June 28, 2009

Solar Powered Airplane

Currently in society, green alternatives for fossil fuels is front and center. What about other modes of transportation? The solar powered car has been studied and put through a number of road tests but now there is also discussion of solar powered airplanes. Gasoline use is incredibly high and that does not look like it will be stopping any time in the near future. Finding an alternative is highly important if we are to make a significant earthly change. Solar power is something that seems like a great alternative. However, it does have its disadvantages.

Solar powered planes have been studied before. A version has already been produced called the Solar Impulse. It was built and designed with much success but it is in need of some further work. Something that runs on the power of the sun cannot be perfected all at once so it may take several years before the Solar Impulse is available for use by the general public. Considering this plane costs a whopping $94 million dollars to run, it will have to undergo much improvement to justify the substantial cost.

The first solar plane was designed so that only one pilot can fit in it at a time. This is definitely a major disadvantage when it comes to practical, real life use. If something were to happen to the pilot, he would not have assistance. Also, it hardly makes it a realistic possibility for everyday flight. The solar powered aircraft is made out of carbon fibre. It is a stable fabric that is also rather supple. The plane draws power from the sun during the day and stores it so that there is enough power to fly at night as well. Of course like any solar powered contraption, an overcast day could really botch a day of flying.

The solar powered airliner does have many serious drawbacks. It can currently only fly for eight hours in one flight interval before it is need of being recharged. When you build something that people need to rely on, statistics like this could pose a real hazard. The fact that it can fly at a height of 127,000 feet is quite impressive though. There most certainly are many features that need to be perfected before these planes are made available for actual public flight.

NASA has been studying the use of solar powered airplanes for many years now. Perhaps in time there will be significant advancements made in this field so that it can be used to its full potential. The use of solar power in flight is just not safe or secure enough to launch in the immediate future. Considering the current solar plane seats only one, it is safe to assume it will be many years before they can possibly become mainstream in any way. Solar power is a free and natural resource that has proven to be worthy of further study. If it can be utilized in the best way possible, the results could be astounding.

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