Zephyr S: A Solar Energy Driven Drone from Airbus

Drones have moved beyond merely a concept to commercialization now and a number of industries are investing on them for security and surveillance purposes, whereas Amazon is even hoping to use drones for package deliveries. However, how are these drones powered? The World is already struggling to meet the exponential energy demands and most of the sectors are now harnessing the possibilities of depending more on renewable energy resources. Along the same line, European aviation giant Airbus has come up with a solar-powered drone that can achieve high altitudes as well as function very similar as a satellite.

Named as Zephyr S, the prototype was unveiled at the Britain’s Farnborough airshow, with Airbus confirming that the drone successfully flew from Arizona in the U.S., which demonstrated the true capabilities of the aircraft. With a wingspan of 82 feet and weighing less than 55 pounds, the drone can attain altitudes of nearly 21,000 meters, which pushes its boundaries beyond weather and traditional air traffic.

The drone is an amalgamation of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and a satellite, exhibiting capability of both. It will be equipped with batter technology that can conserve energy during sunlight and release after dark.

Airbus has also modeled Zephyr T, which is the bigger brother of the former with a wingspan of 33 meters. Over the course of the next three months, the company plans to fly the drone for time durations of around 30 hours to truly test its efficiency.

There are as many as seven models in the pipeline, which will be produced this year itself, where another lot of seven will be released in 2019. Airbus has Britain Defense Ministry as its first customer!

Buildings to Generate Heat and Electricity from Solar Energy

The UK’s Swansea University has designed energy-positive classroom with their expertise, which is able to generate more than one and half times the energy it consumes. This new building is named as Active Office. These buildings consume about 40% of UK energy consumption. Researchers launched the next phase of project hence data regarding the first phase of project was announced.

Active Office is a new way to generate low-carbon offices which help to produce their own requirement of clean energy. Its design of SPECIFIC, a UK based Innovation and Knowledge Centre. Professor at Swansea University College of Engineering and Research Director for SPECIFIC, Dave Worsley, explained the work of SPECIFIC and link between research and application in real world. Involvement of SPECIFIC is for developing advanced solar technologies and its processing expand to full-scale buildings.

Testing is done on the building to demonstrate the ‘buildings as power stations’ can be real. This obtained data from demonstration is fed into fundamental research data for solar energy technologies and further used to propel development. Active Office utilizes numerous advanced technology to generate, store, and utilize solar energy whenever needed.

A roof of the building is curved and integrated with solar cells which are a photovoltaic panel. This photovoltaic thermal system is able to generate heat and electricity by absorbing sunlight. They are equipped with Lithium Ion batteries to store generated energy and water tank is connected to store solar heat.

Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, said this building is living example that one imitative can make difference to the environment. Not only it will fulfill energy requirement by itself but it will create numerous jobs in Wales too. Also, the government is a prime supporter and investor for the project. A surge in investment on the new concept will stimulate the economy. Swansea Bay City Region project of government will create more than 9,000 jobs and investments for £1.3bn.