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Air Liquide: successful testing of new on-board oxygen generating system developed with Solar Impulse

Last April, a test session was conducted with Solar Impulse pilots to validate both the performances and the correct functioning at high altitudes of a new on-board oxygen generating system developed by Air Liquide.

This session was carried out in the presence of the Solar Impulse technical team with the support of Air Liquide experts, in a hypobaric chamber made available by the Swiss Aeromedical Center, which reproduces the actual conditions the pilot will face while flying at high altitudes.

As an official supporter of Solar Impulse (“Pilot life support partner”), Air Liquide has access to this project’s technological development platform for the rollout of an innovative technological solution specially adapted to the demands of civil aviation. This system, which emerged from solutions developed for fighter pilots, enables the use of oxygen present in the atmosphere by separating it from other components and thus satisfying the respiratory needs of the pilot without interruption. 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. Additional testing (for endurance and environmental qualification) is now underway, the aim of which is to qualify the equipment for its potential subsequent installation on-board Solar Impulse 2.

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.

These first tests consolidate Air Liquide’s experience in the area of on-board oxygen generating systems for pilots, crew members and passengers of the aircraft of today and tomorrow.

Air Liquide, special partner for civil and military aviation
Air Liquide advanced Business & Technologies has developed a cutting- edge expertise in aeronautics. As a favoured partner for civil and military aviation for more than twenty-five years, the Group provides innovative technological solutions intended in particular to improve the availability and safety of aircrafts and helicopters.

Solar Impulse
Swiss pioneers Bertrand Piccard (President) and André Borschberg (CEO) are the founders, pilots, and life force behind Solar Impulse, the first aircraft able to fly day and night without fuel or polluting emissions – the aircraft with which they will attempt the first solar flight around the world in 2015. Solar Impulse is a unique adventure aiming to put emotion back into the heart of scientific exploration. Solar Impulse is also an airborne laboratory making way for innovative technological solutions capable of meeting today’s challenges head on. And it is a vision which drives each one of us to become a pioneer on a day-to-day basis. 
This revolutionary single-seater aircraft made of carbon fiber has a 72 meter wingspan (larger than that of the Boeing 747-8l) for a weighs of just 2,300 kg, equivalent to that of a car (1,600 kg).