Materials manufacturer Covestro visited the control center for the Solar Impulse 2 solar aircraft, which is attempting to fly around the world without fuel. The Leverkusen-based Group and project partner guided selected representatives from politics and business through the Mission Control Center in Monaco. Patrick Thomas, the company’s CEO, and Covestro engineer Bernd Rothe took the opportunity to highlight Covestro’s involvement in the Solar Impulse mission.
“I am proud that we are able to contribute to this tremendous project with our products and solutions,” said Thomas. “Solar Impulse demonstrates what can be done with clean technologies and materials available today to make the world a brighter place. That’s a perfect fit for us, and our materials are a perfect fit for Solar Impulse.”
The Si2 is expected to arrive in New York City soon, completing the crossing of the US on its unprecedented around-the-world flight powered solely by the energy of the sun.The ultra lightweight aircraft completed the first half of the distance last year.
During the day, thousands of solar cells on wings spanning 72 meters power the propellers and charge a battery, which then provides power during the night. This allows the aircraft to fly without interruption. The longest flight segment so far was from Japan to Hawaii. The Solar Impulse spent 118 hours – nearly five days – aloft and covered almost 9,000 kilometers, a majority of them over the open sea.
Lightweight cockpit of polyurethane foam
Advanced material solutions from Covestro make the mission possible, ensuring that the aircraft is extremely lightweight and strong. Covestro designed the cockpit shell, which is made of a special rigid polyurethane foam and weighs just 30 kilograms. Yet it protects the pilot from extreme outside temperatures that can range from minus 40 degrees Celsius overnight to plus 40 degrees Celsius during the day.
Rigid polyurethane foam is also used in everyday products. It enhances the efficiency of refrigeration equipment, and when used as an insulating material turns buildings into low-energy buildings.
With 2015 sales of EUR 12.1 billion, Covestro is among the world’s largest polymer companies. Business activities are focused on the manufacture of high-tech polymer materials and the development of innovative solutions for products used in many areas of daily life. The main segments served are the automotive, electrical and electronics, construction and the sports and leisure industries. Covestro, formerly Bayer MaterialScience, has 30 production sites around the globe and employs approximately 15,700 people (full-time equivalents) as of the end of 2016.
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