Solar-powered flight

ABB’s innovation and technology alliance with Solar Impulse

Solar-powered airplane (photo)

2015 saw ABB take to the skies as a partner of Solar Impulse, a project to fly around the world using only the sun’s rays. ABB and Solar Impulse are perfect partners, sharing the goal of addressing the world’s energy challenges through ground-breaking technological innovation.

Three ABB engineers were embedded in the project. Nicolas Loretan and Stevan Marinkovic joined the electrical and propulsion team, helping to extract the maximum amount of power from the solar cells. Tamara Tursijan worked on upgrades to the mobile hangar.

In 2015, the plane flew from Abu Dhabi to Hawaii, breaking several records along the way. The last leg over the Pacific – the longest ever solo flight at 117 hours and 51 minutes – was an epic feat of human endurance and pioneering spirit. The next stage of the round-the-world mission is expected to begin in April 2016.

As with any pioneering project, there were setbacks and unexpected challenges. The mark of pioneers is how they manage the unforeseeable, and the Solar Impulse team displayed the tenacity and unwavering passion demanded by a project that seeks to extend the boundaries of human experience. ABB remains committed to Solar Impulse and to the promise it holds for a future in which it is possible to decouple economic growth from energy consumption and environmental pollution – to run the world without consuming the earth.

“Innovation is a way of inspiring people”

“A dream job! How else can I describe what I’ve been doing with Solar Impulse?

I’ve had the privilege of being part of the ground crew that followed the plane around the world. I was in charge of the mobile hangar control system and helped in many other tasks at each stop. This plane, the only one of its kind, has successfully demonstrated the potential of a whole range of cutting-edge technologies, from its ultralight carbon fiber frame through to its super-efficient electrical systems.

But the real breakthrough is the way Solar Impulse has captured the imagination of millions. In India I saw thousands queuing up to get a glimpse of the plane, and large numbers came to the airfield in Hawaii where André Borschberg completed his record-breaking flight over the Pacific.

At a time when climate change is on everyone’s lips, Solar Impulse has shown that innovation is a way of inspiring people about technology that can solve the problem.

And I’m proud that ABB will continue to play a big role in this adventure.”

Tamara Tursijan,

ABB engineer

Tamara Tursijan, ABB engineer (photo)