By building Solar Impulse, the first solar-powered airplane capable of flying day and night with no fuel or polluting emissions, Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg intended to demonstrate the importance and the considerable potential of clean technologies in terms of energy efficiency and the production of renewable energies.
The objective of Solar Impulse is to add the contribution of exploration and innovation to the cause of renewable energies. This revolutionary airplane has already made numerous flights since 2010, in Europe, in Morocco, and now in the USA with its crosscountry journey "Solar Impulse Across America".
Air Liquide‘s contribution as official supporter involves providing its teams expertise and designing/producing technological equipment. Air Liquide will provide, among other things, an on-board oxygen generating system that produces an unlimited supply of oxygen-enriched air directly on the solar-powered airplane.
In order to carry out its round-the-world trip with stopovers – planned for 2015 – Solar Impulse must be able to make repeated day / night cycles where the airplane climbs to an altitude of 8,500 metres during the day. As the airplane's cockpit is not pressurised, the pilot must have a continuous oxygen supply for the duration of the flight phase that is above 3,000 metres. The need for oxygen is, therefore, critical to the success of this adventure. Generating oxygen on board has the advantage of providing a solution that optimises the mass of the oxygen system, while guaranteeing an unlimited oxygen supply.
Air Liquide Advanced Business & Technologies Europe Vice President, Pierre Etienne Franc, commented:
"We share a common desire with the creators of Solar Impulse to develop cleaner energy. True to its pioneering spirit, Air Liquide Group has chosen to take part in this fantastic adventure. We are delighted to be able to contribute to Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg's avant-guard vision."