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Energy

Electric plane glides to a finish

by Marc S. Reisch
August 1, 2016 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 94, ISSUE 31

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Credit: Solar Impulse
A view out the window of the Solar Impulse 2 above the Persian Gulf.
Credit: Solar Impulse
A view out the window of the Solar Impulse 2 above the Persian Gulf.

The Solar Impulse 2, an airplane powered solely by photovoltaic panels, has completed the 17th and final leg of its 43,000-km trip around the world, landing in Abu Dhabi on July 26. The journey, which began from the Persian Gulf city in March 2015, took 23 days of actual flight time but was punctuated by an eight-month delay in Hawaii because of overheated batteries. Built with lightweight materials from Covestro and Solvay, the plane stored energy in lithium-ion batteries, allowing it to complete long hops over several days and nights.

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