Solar Powered Ships And Planes  

Posted by Big Gav in , , , , ,

Reuters has a report on a Japanese plant o increase shipping fuel efficiency by installing solar panels on board - Japan firms to work on solar-powered ship.

The race to go green has taken to the high seas with two Japanese companies saying they would begin work on the world's first ship to have propulsion engines partially powered by solar energy.

Japan's biggest shipping line Nippon Yusen KK and Nippon Oil Corp said solar panels capable of generating 40 kilowatts of electricity would be placed on top of a 60,000 tonne car carrier to be used by Toyota Motor Corp.

The solar panels would help conserve up to 6.5 percent of fuel oil used in powering diesel engines that generate electricity at any given moment.

The BBC has an article (and video) on a solar power plane - unfortunately it seems to be destined for the service of big brother - Solar plane makes record flight. Interestingly the craft uses lithium sulphur batteries.
A UK-built solar-powered plane has set an unofficial world endurance record for a flight by an unmanned aircraft. The Zephyr-6, as it is known, stayed aloft for more than three days, running through the night on batteries it had recharged in sunlight.

The flight was a demonstration for the US military, which is looking for new types of technology to support its troops on the ground. Craft like Zephyr might make ideal platforms for reconnaissance. They could also be used to relay battlefield communications.

Chris Kelleher, from UK defence and research firm QinetiQ, said Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) offer advantages over traditional aircraft and even satellites. "The principal advantage is persistence - that you would be there all the time," he told BBC News. "A satellite goes over the same part of the Earth twice a day - and one of those is at night - so it's only really getting a snapshot of activity. Zephyr would be watching all day." ...

At first sight, the propeller-driven Zephyr looks to be just another model aircraft, and it is even launched by hand. But this "pilotless" vehicle with its 18-metre wingspan incorporates world-leading technologies.

Its structure uses ultra-lightweight carbon-fibre material; and the plane flies on solar power generated by amorphous silicon solar arrays no thicker than sheets of paper. These are glued over the aircraft's wings.

To get through the night, the propellers are powered from lithium-sulphur batteries which are topped up during the day.

"A lot of effort has gone into power storage and light-weighting the systems," explained Mr Kelleher. "Lithium sulphur is more than double the energy density of the best alternative technology which is lithium polymer batteries. "They are an exceptional performer. We've worked with the Sion Corporation. They've had them in development for years. We're actually the first application in the world for them."


2 comments

I'm so pleased to hear that the Japanese are working on solar powered ships. So many products on this world are shipped from country to country at a huge expense to the environment. 6.5% is not a big number yet, but technology always improves if it is given attention. I work for Sharp LCD TV which has a factory in Japan, and boasts one of the largest rooftop solar panel arrays in the world, significantly reducing the company's carbon footprint. I like where Japan's head is, and I look forward to more innovation.

The Japanese are doing some good things with solar technology and energy efficiency.

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