Irreversible damage to the overheated batteries of Solar Impulse 2 will take several more months than anticipated, delaying the second half of the round-the-world solar flight to April 2016.
During the first ascent on day one of the flight from Nagoya to Hawaii, the batteries in the sola-powered airplane of Betrand Piccard and André Borschberg overheated due to a high climb rate and over-insulation of the casing.
The Solar Impulse team is quick to point out that the damage to the batteries is not a technical failure or weakness in the technology but rather what it calls “an evaluation error in terms of the profile of the mission and the cooling design specifications of the batteries.” The effect of a quick ascent and descent in tropical climates was not properly anticipated.
The University of Hawaii with the support of the Department of Transportation will host the airplane in its hangar. Post-maintenance check flights will begin in 2016 to test the new battery heating and cooling systems.
As Solar Impulse writes, such setbacks are part of the challenges of a project of this nature. The round-the-world journey, which is nearly halfway finished, will resume next spring on its planned route from Hawaii to the west coast of the US, then to JFK airport in New York before making the Atlantic crossing to Europe and returning to its point of departure in Abu Dhabi.
Photo credit: © Solar Impulse | Revillard | Rezo.ch