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TUESDAY 25 OCTOBER, 2011 | RSS Feed

Solar Ship - The Solar Powered Blimp/Plane Hybrid

 

by Energy Matters

Solar Ship
The Solar Ship is a hybrid aircraft, combining aerodynamic lift, aerostatic lift and solar cell technology to create a long range, energy efficient cargo carrier.
  
According to the company behind the aircraft, Solar Ship can carry huge payloads with greater flexibility and more efficiency than a traditional airplane.
  
Primarily designed to service remote areas and disaster zones, the craft can take off and land in a space of as little as 50 metres.
  
This isn't a lighter-than-air craft - it relies on aerodynamic lift of its wing shape instead of buoyancy. This allows Solar Ship to be far smaller than a blimp, while carrying the same payload; and makes the craft more robust, easier to control and therefore safer.
  
Three models of Solar Ship are currently being developed. 
  
The Caracal is the smallest craft, geared primarily towards utility and surveillance operations. Able to carry a payload of 150 kilograms, it has a range of 500 kilometres a day if powered purely by the sun, or up to 2,500 kilometres using the hybrid propulsion system.
  
Chui (Swahili for leopard) is more suited to cargo markets, offering a payload capacity of one tonne under solar-only power, or 2.5 tonnes with the hybrid system. If sourcing power only via the solar cells atop the "wing", Chui has a range of around 1,000 kilometres a day.
   
The Nanuq is the company's equivalent of the 18-wheel truck. With a payload capacity of 18 tonnes under solar power alone, it has a maximum speed of  84 kilometres an hour and a range only limited by available sunlight. 
  
While 84 km/hr may not sound particularly speedy compared to other forms of aircraft, considering its application and ability to travel "as the crow flies" between points; it would outpace a freight truck by a substantial margin. Fully ladened, Nanug has a takeoff distance of just 200 metres and a landing distance of around 100 metres.
  
    

 

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