The concept of the project “Albatros” is creating a unique aircraft with an electric propulsion system and solar modules as power source. The goal of the project is a solar powered non-stop around-the-world flight. The aircraft will cover 35 thousand km in 120-150 hours. The numbers are record for such kind of aircrafts. The flight will pass over the territory of Australia, New Zealand, Chilie, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa. 80% of the route will pass over the waters of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. The flight level will be also record – up to 16 km. Peak speed is up to 300 km/h when 210 km/h is cruising speed of the aircraft for a record flight. Therefore, it is planned to crack several existing international and national records in aviation.
The project authors are planning to take the world’s first solar powered non-stop around-the-world flight in 2020. Based on the Stemme S12, the world’s first photovoltanics flying lab was created to design the aircraft. Photovoltanics is a method for generating electric power by using solar cells to convert energy from the sun into a flow of electrons by the photovoltaic effect. A resident of Skolkovo Community, TEEMP Manufacturing LLC is taking part in the project.
The flying lab has next specifications:
- Maximum take-off mass — 900 kg;
- Wingspan — 25 m;
- Wing area — 19,95 m2;
- Peak speed — 259 km/h.
The flexible solar modules with an efficiency coefficient of more than 22% are able to capture both direct and reflected sunlight. The flying laboratory is equipped with such modules only. In addition, we are testing high-performance hybrid energy storage devices based on lithium-ion batteries and super-capacitors “TEEMP.”
The flexible solar modules are installed on the upper and lower surfaces of the wing, on the caps of the chassis and the upper part of the fuselage of the flying laboratory. The aircraft also has a super-capacitor energy storage device that protects lithium-ion batteries from increased loads, premature wear and heat acceleration. An electric heater is installed in the cockpit as a test load of electricity, which allows to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the aircraft during long flights at high altitudes.
Successful realization of the project will be an incentive for the development of new aviation, based on the electrical systems of motion. The technologies developed in the course of the project will allow the creation, in particular, of autonomous aircraft (“atmospheric satellites”). They can be used to organize communication networks, high-quality imaging of the earth’s surface, monitoring forests, agricultural lands, pipeline systems and other infrastructure facilities.
The project realization plan includes three basic stages:
1 stage — creation of a high-altitude flying lab to test solar modules and super-capacitors;
2 stage — development and construction of the aircraft basing on gained experience and technology well-proven in the flying lab;
3 stage — non-stop solar powered around-the-world flight (approximately in 2020).
Victor Vekselberg, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Renova Group, announced the project first in 2017 in at the regular meeting “Russian Geography Society” in the presence of the President of th Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.
The authors of the project are Mikhail Lifshits (Chairman of the Board of Directors of Rotec) and Fedor Konyukhov (traveler).
The tasks of the lab include gathering scientific data in real environmental conditions (temperature, pressure, humidity) and at different altitude and in different regions. The data will be used to arrange the non-stop solar powered around-the-world flight.
During the tests the aircraft analyze the solar modules work in different climatic zones of Russia. According to Mikhail Lifshits, it is time for the summer tests. In particular, the flights are taken in Severka (Moscow region), some flights are planned to be taken from Nizhniy Novgorod, Yekaterinburg, vicinity of the Mt. Elbrus and Stavropol region to collect necessary data for future routing.
Mikhail Lifshits, Chairman of the Board of Directors of JSC “ROTEC” and the head of the “Albatross” Project said: «The first stage of the project – development of the lab – was important because we have such an experience with different photovoltanics but in ground conditions only. There are no answers to these questions that are based on systematic scientific experiments. There is a question of how much energy can we collect on the surface of an aircraft in its different positions relative to the sun, in different latitudes and at different times of the day, and in different conditions of the surface of the planet below. That’s way we have developed this laboratory. To design the plane correctly, you need to have a calculation base. For this we had built our flying laboratory; this stage of our project is already unique in itself.”
As a second stage an aircraft of bigger size will be developed. The non-stop round-the-world flight is supposed to be done within 5-6 days, i.e. in 150 hours.