Even as the ultra-lightweight Solar Impulse plane’s flight across the U.S. comes to a close, engineers are busy testing the next version of the plane meant to fly around the world in 2015. At the RUAG Large Subsonic Wind Tunnel in Emmen, Switzerland, engineers are testing a polyurethane foam cockpit shell developed by Bayer MaterialScience. The tests will verify the airworthiness of the structure and the cabin door, and will also simulate the behavior of the materials during flight.
“The opportunities on this new aircraft are really limitless as the components will need to be even more lightweight than this first plane model, providing additional opportunities to showcase Bayer’s material innovations,” said Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer MaterialScience.
The Solar Impulse, an ultra-lightweight, solar-powered plane capable of flying day and night, flew from San Francisco to New York City, with stops in Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., with the help of diverse material innovations and technologies from Bayer MaterialScience.Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, co-founders and pilots of the Solar Impulse project, worked with Bayer MaterialScience to make the vision possible.
“The Solar Impulse Across America flight is a significant breakthrough and is an ideal platform to demonstrate how Bayer materials can contribute to sustainable development, including energy-efficient transportation,” said Richard Northcote, head of sustainability at Bayer MaterialScience. “And, like Solar Impulse, Bayer MaterialScience is committed to reducing energy consumption while investing in clean technologies.”
The Solar Impulse Across America aircraft showcased several Bayer materials and technologies:
- High-performance polyurethane rigid foams used in the wing tips, motor gondolas and cabin.
- High-performance polycarbonate films used in the cabin window.
- High-performance adhesive and coating raw materials used in the cabin, as well as structure-covering films and wing-covering fabric.
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