New York, NY, July 10, 2013 --(PR.com
)-- Even as the ultra-lightweight Solar Impulse plane’s Across America flight comes to a successful close, engineers are busy testing the next version of the plane meant to fly around the world in 2015.
At the RUAG Large Subsonic Wind Tunnel in Emmen, Switzerland, engineers are in the midst of testing a polyurethane foam cockpit shell developed by Bayer MaterialScience. The tests will verify the airworthiness of the structure and the cabin door, and will also simulate the behavior of the materials during flight.
“The opportunities on this new aircraft are really limitless as the components will need to be even more lightweight than this first plane model, providing additional opportunities to showcase Bayer’s material innovations,” said Patrick Thomas, CEO of Bayer MaterialScience.
The Solar Impulse – an ultra-lightweight, solar-powered plane, capable of flying day and night – flew across America from San Francisco to New York City, stopping in Phoenix, Dallas, St. Louis, Cincinnati and Washington, D.C., with the help of diverse material innovations and technologies from Bayer MaterialScience.
Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, co-founders and pilots of the Solar Impulse project, worked closely with Bayer MaterialScience to make the vision possible.
“The Solar Impulse Across America flight is a significant breakthrough and is an ideal platform to demonstrate how Bayer materials can contribute to sustainable development, including energy-efficient transportation,” said Richard Northcote, head of sustainability, Bayer MaterialScience. “And, like Solar Impulse, Bayer MaterialScience is committed to reducing energy consumption while investing in clean technologies.”
The Solar Impulse Across America aircraft showcased several Bayer materials and technologies:
· High-performance polyurethane rigid foams used in the wing tips, motor gondolas and cabin
· High-performance polycarbonate films used in the cabin window
· High-performance adhesive and coating raw materials used in the cabin, as well as structure-covering films and wing-covering fabric
Pilots to share experiences, STEM job opportunities with students
On July 12, as part of Solar Impulse’s closing activities at John F. Kennedy International Airport, Bayer MaterialScience representatives and the pilots will spend time with 50 South Bronx elementary, middle and high school students from Health People’s Kids-Helping-Kids program and other youth summer programs. In addition to touring the plane, the students will learn about Solar Impulse’s journey as it travelled across the U.S., the science behind the aircraft, the possibilities in the country’s future science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) workforce, and the myriad of STEM job opportunities expected to be available in clean tech, chemistry, material science and aviation.
Hosted by Bayer, the students’ participation is part of the company’s commitment to strengthening STEM education through its presidential award-winning Making Science Make Sense® program.
Bayer materials crucial to 2015 around the world mission
For the new plane, now under construction, Bayer is contributing a polyurethane insulating material for the cockpit that insulates significantly better than standard versions of the material to better protect against in-flight temperature fluctuations between minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit and plus 122 Fahrenheit.
Bayer researchers are also working on the cockpit windshield to improve the pilot’s vision by reducing occurrences of condensation that could form when the temperature drops. One possible solution is an enlarged, stable cockpit windshield that uses a polycarbonate sandwich structure.
Another focus is developing suitable coatings that improve the properties of the fabrics on board as well as more lightweight, weather-resistant coatings for covering the wings.
“Bayer employees involved in the Solar Impulse project are committed to researching solutions to all of these challenges,” said Jerry MacCleary, president, Bayer MaterialScience LLC. “The material solutions showcased on Solar Impulse will be used to serve our customers in a variety of markets, including lightweight materials for automotive and transportation, insulating materials for building and construction, and thermal management for consumer electronics.”