Congratulations To Solar Impulse

Solar Impulse is an airplane that runs only on solar power. They are on their way to fly round the world. And they just made it from Japan to Hawaii, after an effort of flying close to five days.

That’s good news, as far as it goes.

On the other hand, this has only symbolic value. If you want to use solar power for aviation, there are two better ways to do it.

One is to go for a vehicle lighter than air. Build some big airship. Like the Aeroscraft shown in the video below. You could install a lot of solar panels on the much larger available surface of such an airship.

The Aeroscraft “Dragon Dream” shown in the video above has real world applications. It can land and lift off anywhere. It can handle larger bulk cargo than any airplane, which comes in handy when you want to move wind power blades to some desert location. You could build a cruise ship with the technology.

The other alternative is to use existing airplanes and just make liquid fuels from solar energy to power them.

That’s easily done. People are making “E-diesel” liquid fuel from CO2 and water right now in Germany. The German Minister of Education and Research was one of the first people to use this liquid fuel.

This approach has the added benefit of using solar energy in a time slot where demand of electricity is insufficient to cover supply. Instead of turning off your solar panels and wasting precious carbon-free energy, just make some hydrogen and “blue crude” liquid fuels.

 

Published by kflenz

Professor at Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo. Author of Lenz Blog (since 2003, lenzblog.com).

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