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Mobility Diary

    "Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure."

    Marianne Williamson
    from her book "A Return To Love"

    Mobility Diary

    Tag <Solar Power>

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    Solar Powered Airplane: Solar Impulse
    last edited 2010/07/11 11:10 (*)

    In a century which brought a lot of invention about mobility, recent developments only pretend to be real innovations, but mostly refinements of existing ideas, concepts and realizations. Solar Impulse project around Bertrand Piccard is such a project.

    Solar Impulse Plans

    Solar Impulse (Illustration)

    Solar Impulse Test Flight

    General characteristics

    • Crew: 1
    • Payload: Lithium-ion batteries: 450 kg, (capacity: 200 Wh/kg = 90 KWh)
    • Length: 21.85 m (71.7 ft)
    • Wingspan: 63.4 m (208 ft)
    • Height: 6.40 m (21.0 ft)
    • Wing area: 11,628 photovoltaic cells: 200 m2 (2,200 sq ft)
    • Loaded weight: 1600 kg (3,500 lb)
    • Max takeoff weight: 2000 kg (4,400 lb)
    • Powerplant: 4 electric motors, 7.5 kW (10 HP) each
    • Take-off speed: 35 kilometres per hour (22 mph)


    • Cruise speed: 70 kilometres per hour (43 mph)
    • Endurance: 36 hours (projected)
    • Service ceiling: 8,500 m (27,900 ft) Maximum altitude: 12,000 metres (39,000 ft)

    Wingspan Comparison of Solar Impulse vs Airbus 380

    The wingspan comparison and weight comparison shows the key of energy efficiency: weight. Regardless in air or surface, the weight is a major factor as pointed out in other postings here. To build a 1600kg airplane where the batteries already use up 25% of the weight reveals also the main problem: storing (electric) energy, and currently (2010) electricity is stored in batteries, and those still impose a high weight cost.

    I hope the research around Solar Impulse provides also new insights of efficiency of ground mobility and vice-versa.


    Solar Taxi - A Swiss Entrepreneur
    last edited 2009/04/11 18:00 (*)

    The "Solar Taxi" made it to the mainstream news media world wide, and was praised as true innovation.

    Luis Palmer with his Solar Taxi
    As the term indicates "Solar Taxi", it is a car which is driven by solar power, but after a close look, it is revealed that just 50% of the charge is coming from the solar panel, the rest comes from the grid. So, it is a "50% Solar Taxi" in truth - yet a good start indeed.

    Some details:

    • 6m2 solar cells on a rooftop yield power for 15,000 km per year!
    • up to 400 km range
    • max. speed: 90 km/h
    • vehicle weight: 500 kg (+ 250 kg for trailer) - which makes a 6.25 vehicle/body ratio
    • energy efficiency: consumption of 8 kWh/100 km (equivalent of 0.8 l petrol / 100 km)


    Shell quits alternative energy investments
    last edited 2009/03/30 19:32 (*)

    According to The Guardian , the UK-based energy company Shell quits wind, solar and hydro power investements - as if it was just too good to be true to have an oil company to metamorph into a "green" company - so we are back in reality, Shell is and was always an oil company and will end as such as well.

    The same week Obama announces to invest more into wind farms and bring US back to leading development in that area of expertise, which in the last 10 years was dominated by europeans. Isn't this odd, one quits, another starts to invest more in the same technology?

    Source: Guardian Article

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