A second group of materials includes highly transparent polycarbonate films in the cabin window. These are made of two sheets of Makrofol DE 1-1 polycarbonate film separated by a cushion of air. Other Bayer materials include films for covering structures, wing-covering fabric, and high-performance adhesive and coating materials in the cabin.
"Solar Impulse selected these materials because of their light-weighting capabilities," Rothe wrote. "For example, the polyurethane foam combines design freedom to form the faring and other complex components, as well as high insulation values at a very low density. Polyurethane parts were used where insulation is needed on the plane: cockpit cladding, motor cowling, and wing tips."
The HI-SIB will use the same materials groups: polyurethane foam, polycarbonate, and film and coatings. These will be further optimized, since the second plane needs to be even lighter. The cockpit's insulating foam materials (which also must deliver higher performance) are based on Baytherm Microcell and being co-developed with Solvay. "The material is better due to newly developed formulations, which allow for a significantly lower cell size," Rothe wrote. "These smaller cells make the polyurethane insulation properties even better and the density stays at a very low level. So the total weight should be lower." Another new development is a polyurethane resin for the carbon fiber composite.
For the HI-SIB, Bayer is providing and designing materials and structures. For example, it is handling the design of the cockpit shell. The windshield's sandwich structure will be similar to the HI-SIA's, but Bayer developed a new material that will reduce the likelihood of clouding from water condensation.
The second plane's coatings for all the exterior parts, especially the parts where no solar cells are located, are vital. They are extremely lightweight, allowing optimum protection for the films or textiles underneath. The coatings' "material properties will be the same, but no solvents will be used, which means the material is more ecologically friendly."
Glad you liked it, bobj, and thanks for the Shaw quote--he was an early hero of mine, too. That whole "why not?" spirit is what's been so exciting about Silicon Valley (my home "town) and these days, about alternative energy sources, in my opinion. Figuring out how to go to the Moon is often cited as an expression of the daring and ability of the human spirit. I think this airplane--and a few other feats of what looked like impossible technology--can be seen in the same light.
Excellent post Ann and the video was terrific. One of my favorite people in history is George Bernard Shaw. He said the following: You see things; and you say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?" One of the reasons folks like us got into engineering was to ask WHY NOT! I fear all too frequently our so-called leaders stop asking why not. We (seemingly) have become a nation without a national goal. At one time, the exploration of space was our vision. Now we seem to be content allowing the politicians to line their pockets while appeasing their "base". Getting reelected is all they strive for.
A make-your-own Star Wars Sith Lightsaber hilt is heftier and better-looking than most others out there, according to its maker, Sean Charlesworth. You can 3D print it from free source files, and there's even a hardware kit available -- not free -- so you can build one just in time for Halloween.
Some next-generation bio-based materials are superior in performance to their petro-based counterparts, but also face some commercial challenges. This is especially true of certain biopolymers, adhesives, coatings, and advanced materials.
Cars and other vehicles, as well as electronics and medical devices, continue to lead the use cases for the new plastics products we've been seeing, as engineers design products for tougher environments.
LeMond Composites, founded by three-time Tour de France cycling champion Greg LeMond, is the first to license a new carbon fiber production method invented by Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) that's faster, cheaper, and greener.
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