OFFICIAL SCIENTIFIC ADVISOR
Explorers of the new territories of knowledge’ is a phrase that summarizes the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne very well.
The EPFL has already contributed to Bertrand Piccard's first non-stop, round-the-world balloon flight in 1999 and to Alinghi's victory in the 2007 America's Cup and counts among its professors NASA's first European astronaut, Claude Nicollier, who also doubles as Solar Impulse’s test flight director.
This pioneering spirit also underlies the spectacular development of the institution that boasts some 250 laboratories and 10 000 people. The EPFL plays a major role in the emergence of new scientific domains, develops research, interfaces between the classical disciplines and provides an original combination of theoretical research, experimental research and technology transfer.
In 2003, through the impetus of Bertrand Piccard and Professor Stefan Catsicas, the EPFL carried out a feasibility study on the project for a round-the-world flight by a solar airplane. It was the positive results of this study, undertaken with the assistance of experts in mechanics, thermodynamics, aerodynamics, electrical systems, composite materials, photovoltaic systems, energy transfer and storage and IT models, that enabled the Solar Impulse project to be officially launched.
Since then, under the leadership of Professor Jan-Anders Månson, Vice-President for innovation and development, assisted by Pascal Vuilliommet and the laboratories concerned, the EPFL has offered its academic expertise as Official Scientific Adviser to the project. Its contribution is not only making it possible to meet the complex technological challenges of this new adventure, but is also helping science to move forward in a key areas such as ultra-light materials, flexible solar cells, energy saving in very complex systems and new generation man-machine interfacing, capable of adapting to each user.
Through these scientific projects, the EPFL is looking for technological results that will benefit society by helping protect the environment and the quality of life. In this regard, Solar Impulse constitutes an excellent instrument for motivating the new generations of scientists to become involved in research for sustainable development.
"Solar Impulse represents a fantastic flying laboratory, capable of stimulating high-level research with vast perspectives for its application both to the environment and to our quality of life." Jan-Anders Månson, Vice-President for Innovation and Development, EPFL