Solar-powered round-the-world trip
The construction of the first solar-powered catamaran, which was the first one circumnavigating the world, was a mayor challenge. Sika provided the elastic Sikaflex® 292 for the photovoltaic modules which were laminated to PVC sandwich panels. This way solar modules were prepared for the rough marine environment.
38,000 solar cells above the sea
A total of 825 panels comprising 38,000 individual photovoltaic cells cover an area of over 536 m2. These convert the solar energy needed to charge the lithium ion batteries that supply four electric motors. Solar panels are supplemented by extendable side wings that are also equipped with solar modules. With no other drive units of any kind on board, the 31-meter-long solar-powered catamaran “Tûranor PlanetSolar” has become the first solar-powered catamaran circumnavigating the globe. At an impressive average speed of 8 knots, the expedition took a total of 20 month and a distance of 60’254 km on sea with an environmentally friendly and nearly noiseless travel.
World record of solar-powered vessel
Multiple records have been broken, including those for the furthest distance travelled by a solar-powered vessel and the fastest crossing of the Atlantic by a solar-powered vessel. After eight years of hard work, difficulties, doubts, storms and adventures, the successful completion of the first circumnavigation under solar power was celebrated on May 4, 2012 at the starting and destination port of Monaco.
Technical solutions for marine environment
The design had to combine characteristics that had previously been incompatible, as the vessel’s hull had to remain flexible in all directions in order to adapt to the demands of the marine environment, such as wave action. This is no simple matter, as solar panels tend to break when they are bent. In cooperation with Sika Germany, the bonding surfaces were tested in bonding tests on the boat and in the engineering department and were approved for use. This was achieved by having the manufacturer bond the photovoltaic modules to PVC sandwich panels laminated on both sides with Sikaflex® 292. The elasticity of this construction adhesive that has been specifically developed for boatbuilding and shipbuilding enables it to compensate the kinetic energy transmitted through the hull of the vessel. Roughly half a ton of Sikaflex® 292 has been proving its reliability on a major voyage, protecting the rigid solar modules against fractures on the flexible hull.