Solar Ship Needs No Fuel And No Infrastructure

October 26, 2011 | 00:54
Solar Ship Needs No Fuel And No Infrastructure
Solar Ship Needs No Fuel And No Infrastructure
The Canadian company Solar Ship is building hybrid aircrafts which can operate in remote areas where there is no infrastructure and no fossil fuel available. The aircraft is powered by solar energy and can take off and land on a stretch of land no larger than a soccer field.

The solar ship is specifically geared to bring aid to disaster stricken areas. Natural disasters such as tsunami’s or earthquakes can plummet a region into chaos. Destruction of roads and bridges can prevent aid workers from reaching the hardest stricken areas. And as supply lines are broken resources, including fossil fuels, become scarce.

That is why co-founder and CEO Jay Godsall wanted to build a solar ship which can fly solely on solar power and can land practically anywhere. He got in contact with James DeLaurier, professor of Aerospace Studies at the University of Toronto and asked him if he could come up with a viable design, writes DeLaurier and his students accepted the challenge and designed a hybrid aircraft. By then DeLaurier was enamored by the idea and together they founded Solar Ship in 2006.

The solar ship is a hybrid between an airship and an aerodynamic aircraft. Like an airship it has an inflatable top which can be filled with buoyant gas to assist with the lift off. But unlike an airship the solar ship is not lighter than air. It produces half of its lift off through aerodynamics. The inflatable top is covered with solar panels which fuel the plain on its journey.

One prototype is called the Chui, the Swahili word for Leopard. It can fly 1000 km a day whilst carrying a 1000 k payload. And it only needs a 50 m runway to take off or land. And after having delivered supplies its solar array can function as a power station to the operations on the ground.

Photo: Solar Ship
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