If you ever doubted that renewable energies would take flight, it may be time to think again. On May 1st, Bertrand Piccard and Andre Borschberg, both co-founders and pilots, are scheduled to fly a solar powered aircraft, known as the Solar Impulse, across the US in an effort to show the public that there is reason to pursue a future engine by renewable energies.

Spreading the renewable word from California to NYC

The plane will take off from NASA’s Moffett Field in Silicon Valley, California to New York City in early July, making stops in Phoenix, Dallas and Washington en route. Past trips include a 26 hour flight that proved the aircraft’s ability to conquer the skies at night, followed by the first international flight to Belgium and France, and finally the first transcontinental voyage, distancing 1,550 miles from Madrid to Morocco.

Argued by some to be the world’s most advanced solar-powered plane, Solar Impulse will make stops for 7-10 days at major airports in order to allow interaction between the pilots and members of the public, journalists, students and aviation enthusiasts.

The secret behind the Solar Impulse

According to Energy Manager Today, Solar Impulse is equipped with a carbon fiber structure and a propulsion chain designed to save energy. The plane weighs about the same as a car, with a wingspan equal to that of an Airbus A340.

Live Science reports that the aircraft uses zero fuel, relying solely on solar power and batteries charged by 12,000 photovoltaic cells in order to operate. Flight is made possible by combining lightweight construction, low power needs, giant wings equipped with solar panels, and lithium polymer batteries that enable the plane during the night (pictures available on Live Science).

While the plane doesn’t have enough room at the moment for passengers, by the time it readies itself for the “round-the-world-trip” scheduled to take place in 2015, the team hopes the cockpit will be large enough to equal the size of a business class.

What do the co-founder hope to achieve?

In a quote found on Yahoo News, Borschberg reiterates the purpose behind the voyage: “We want to inspire the young generation to become pioneers, to help them find and develop their passion.” Co-founder and chairman, Bertranad Piccard adds that: “The more you fly the more energy you have stored in the batteries, so it’s absolutely fabulous to imagine all the possibilities the people can have with these technologies in their daily lives.”  Hopes are that this voyage will inspire the public and businessmen and women throughout various industries to get creative when it comes to using renewable energies in future endeavours.

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image credit: Deutsche Bank