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United States Patent

September 22, 1998
View the Complete Patent at the US Patent & Trademark Office
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - Visit the Industrial Partnerships Office Website
This disclosure provides a solar rechargeable aircraft that is inexpensive to produce, is steerable, and can remain airborne almost indefinitely. The preferred aircraft is a span-loaded flying wing, having no fuselage or rudder. Travelling at relatively slow speeds, and having a two-hundred foot wingspan that mounts photovoltaic cells on most all of the wing's top surface, the aircraft uses only differential thrust of its eight propellers to turn. Each of five sections of the wing has one or more engines and photovoltaic arrays, and produces its own lift independent of the other sections, to avoid loading them. Five two-sided photovoltaic arrays, in all, are mounted on the wing, and receive photovoltaic energy both incident on top of the wing, and which is incident also from below, through a bottom, transparent surface. The aircraft is capable of a top speed of about ninety miles per hour, which enables the aircraft to attain and can continuously maintain altitudes of up to sixty-five thousand feet. Regenerative fuel cells in the wing store excess electricity for use at night, such that the aircraft can sustain its elevation indefinitely. A main spar of the wing doubles as a pressure vessel that houses hydrogen and oxygen gasses for use in the regenerative fuel cell. The aircraft has a wide variety of applications, which include weather monitoring and atmospheric testing, communications, surveillance, and other applications as well.
Hibbs; Bart D. (Altadena, CA), Lissaman; Peter B. S. (Altadena, CA), Morgan; Walter R. (Simi Valley, CA), Radkey; Robert L. (Redwood City, CA)
08/ 404,540
March 15, 1995
The U.S. Government, represented by the Department of Energy, has a paid-up license in this invention and the right in limited circumstances to require the patent owner to license others on reasonable terms as provided by the terms of Contract Numbers W-7405-ENG-48, Subcontract B208882, W-7405-ENG-48, Subcontract B208850, and W-7405-ENG-48, Subcontract B208862 .