The idea of a solar powered aircraft may have sounded futuristic to people back in the 90s. Not anymore though. Plenty of advancements in the area have led to the rise of several solar airplane concepts in the past few years. So it won’t be surprising if we get to see the skies filling up with these solar airplane concepts in the near future. Here are 6 such solar aircraft concept designs that look quite promising, and would most likely hit the skies pretty soon.
This solar powered aircraft is extremely light and can be remotely piloted. The aircraft sports a wingspan of 206 feet that is fitted with photovoltaic cells. Capable of flying for longer durations at higher altitudes, the Centurion also features an 8 foot chord that allows its wing to enjoy a 26:1 aspect ratio as well as enjoy a smoother flight when airborne.
Faradair BEHA Concept
This solar powered concept plane is a bio-electric hybrid model that is billed to be the most eco-friendly aircrafts in the world. Touted to be the quietest aircraft in the word as well, the plane makes use of a combined bio-diesel/electric motor. Complete with solar panels fitted on the flight surfaces and other energy conservation techniques, the FaradairBEHA is all set to become the silent ruler of the skies.
This two seater aircraft is solar powered and can fly literally hundreds of miles without a drop of fuel. Designed by Samuel Nicz, the aircraft features photovoltaic cells fitted across its 70 cm wide wingspan. These cells power the aircraft’s AC engine, making it capable of reaching speeds of 100 km/h easily purely on solar power.
Zephyr Solar Plane
This unmanned solar powered concept plane has already made several test runs over the Arizona army range. Designed to function as a self-sufficient aircraft, the Zephyr Solar Plane is intended for surveillance purposes. The solar panels fitted on the wings of the aircraft help generate the necessary power for it to fly while surplus energy is stored in lithium sulphur batteries, and can be used to power the plane during the night.
The aircraft has already broken several endurance records for the maximum number of hours in the air, completing over 336 continuous flying hours. This is at least 30 hours more than the previous record. Although the aircraft’s current design is intended for private use only, talks about a similar design for commercialization are already underway.
With an impressive wing span of 207 feet, the Solar Impulse is a solar powered aircraft that gets its power from over 12000 photovoltaic cells fitted on these wings. The aircraft also contains an onboard battery that stores surplus energy that can then power the aircraft in the night. Capable of reaching heights of over 28000 feet, the Solar Impulse has enough photovoltaic powered juice to carry the aircraft from 7 in the morning to nightfall the next day.
Odysseus Solar Plane
This solar powered surveillance aircraft is an autonomous plane that can fly for at least 5 consecutive years on purely solar derived power. The unique design of the aircraft features a total of three airplanes, each measuring 164 feet long, that take on the shape of wing shaped structures. The individual aircrafts are launched separately into the air and then combine with one another near the stratosphere to form a giant, unmanned aircraft that stretches for 492 feet in all its glory. The solar photovoltaic cells present on the combined aircraft’s wingspan can power it for more than 140 miles per hour, allowing it to reach heights of over 80000 feet in the process.
Solar powered aircrafts are no longer a thing of the future. Advancements in the field have given rise to several solar aircraft concept designs that would pretty soon start making appearances in the skies.