ABB, Solar Impulse form technology alliance

ABB’s heritage of technology innovation in renewables, sustainable transportation and energy efficiency makes it an ideal partner for Solar Impulse, which is attempting the first round-the-world flight powered by the sun.

Power and automation technology group ABB recently announced it will support Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg in their attempt to fly around the world in a solar-powered airplane in 2015.

The first-ever flight through the night with a solar airplane as well as record-breaking missions across Europe, the Mediterranean Sea and the United States brought worldwide attention to Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg with their Solar Impulse endeavor, demonstrating the enormous potential of clean technologies and showing how a pioneering spirit can achieve the impossible.

Now the Solar Impulse team is preparing for the ultimate technological challenge: to circumnavigate the globe in a plane powered only by the sun’s energy.

On April 9, the team unveiled a new airplane, which will be used to attempt the round-the-world flight in 2015.

The revolutionary carbon fibre airplane has the 208-foot wingspan of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a small car at 3,527 pounds. It is the result of seven years of intense work, calculations, simulations and tests by a team of some 80 people and 100 partners and advisors.

A plane so big and light has never been built before. The 12,000 solar cells built into the wing provide four 10HP electric motors with renewable energy. By day the solar cells recharge the 881-pound lithium batteries, which allow the plane to fly at night.

“This partnership brings together two Swiss-based global leaders that are passionate about pushing the boundaries of technology and innovation to achieve a better world,” said Ulrich Spiesshofer, ABB CEO. “We believe in Bertrand’s vision, and we are convinced that by pioneering innovative technologies we will be able to decouple economic growth from energy consumption and environmental impact. Today, ABB is a global leader for solutions to enable energy efficiency, sustainable transportation and renewables and like Solar Impulse we are always challenging the boundaries of what is technologically possible.”

Piccard, the initiator and chairman of Solar Impulse, said it was his dream to have ABB as technology partner.

“We have the same goal of improving the world by using energy more efficiently and conserving natural resources,” Piccard said.

Borschberg, the co-founder and CEO of Solar Impulse, called both Solar Impulse and ABB “technology innovators and pioneers.”

“We both want to motivate people to use clean technologies,” Borschberg said. “ABB and Solar Impulse will work together on key technologies like power electronics for our mutual benefit.”

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