gallery This plane? This plane can fly for 118 hours

ideas.ted.com

Here’s a riddle for you: A plane flew for five days and nights, staying airborne for 118 hours. But it didn’t use a single drop of fuel. How?

Because it’s solar-powered. Carrying some 17,000 solar cells, the Solar Impulse 2 plane ascends to 28,000 feet during the day to collect enough solar energy to charge the batteries attached to four electric motors. These then power the plane through the following 12 hours of darkness. At sunrise, the batteries start to recharge — and on it goes. The one-seater plane is the dream of adventurer Bertrand Piccard (TED Talk: My solar-powered adventure), one he designed to demonstrate the power and possibility of pollution-free travel. On July 1, 2015, the plane set a world record for the longest ever flight after a five-day, 5,100-mile trip from Japan to Hawaii. With Solar Impulse 2 grounded for repair right now (more on that below)…

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