SkySpark Challenge is the name of the project coordinated by DigiSky; an engineering company specialized in R&D (Research & Development) innovative technology for aeronautical applications.
The goal of the SkySpark project is to design and build a complete “ecological” aircraft.
It is a unique project as it sums 3 main competitive factors:
· Highly innovative from a technological point of view
· Totally “EcoCompatible”
· Commercially very attractive
It is based on technologies at the forefront of today’s research and of great interest for the future:
· Hydrogen Fuel Cells and stocking systems
· Lithium Polymers batteries
· Electrical Engine brushless
According to recent surveys, by 2020 the fuel consumption in aeronautics will increase of 250%.
Considering the faster growth of the industrialization process and so the huge emissions produced every year, we can rely on sustainable energy sources.
For example, the air freight produces million tons of CO2 and it is partly responsible for emissions that cause the greenhouse effect. Also the European Community is working for this problem and wants to reduce the CO2 and NOx discharge for passenger, because in the next years the real issue could be the holding by the Kyoto Protocol (2012).
In detail, the project combines the academic capabilities of the Polytechnic of Turin and the technical exper-tise of highly dynamic SME’s.
SkySpark is coordinated by DigiSky, and therefore the company can take advantage of the Polytechnic of Turin and the fundamental contribution of Environment Park.
Furthermore the team can rely on partners as:
· SICME Motori
· CFM Air
· Aircraft Studio Design
· SG Fly Evolution
The project enjoys the presence of a prestigious Team Leader, Mr. Maurizio Cheli (Lieutenant Colonel, Ital-ian Air Force, Astronaut for the European Space Agency and Chief Test Pilot of Eurofighter Typhoon).
Who flew with the SkySpark, establishing the World Speed Record for a 100% electrically powered aircraft during the World Air Games in Turin in June this year. He reached a top speed of 250 km/h. This successful flight is only an intermediate step of the program because the team will now focus on the next goal: the hy-drogen fuel cells powered engine by the middle of 2010.
Hydrogen is certainly the ideal element because of its energy capacity and environmental compatibility.
Electrical engines have already overtaken internal combustion engines both for efficiency and dimensions and the strong point they have today is the very high degree of reliability and long life.
So, if we try to focus on the future situation of the market, recent surveys considered that:
· From 2010 to 2015 there will be an opening of markets of stationary, niche and portable devices ap-plications, and until 2020 the production will be from fossil fuels primarily.
· Then from 2015 to 2020 the market will take-off in the transport field and we’ll have mass markets.
· Finally in 2050 the hydrogen produced from sustainable sources will have a greater important role in the energy production.
The development of the hydrogen technology and its market are strongly connected to the technology evolu-tion in the different areas of the weaving factory. Nowadays these developments are already permitting the spread of the know-how and new opportunities with regard to components production.
So a stronger technology development for fuel cells could reduce costs, increase the efficiency, guarantee the duration and the reliability, creating the requirements for a large scale usage, also by pilot projects in the dif-ferent fields.
Then, if we try to give some figures to the SkySpark project, we could declare that it has a value more or less of 310.000 €, considering the costs of the project management (35.000 €), the materials (180.000 €), human resources and so the R&D (70.000 €), and the logistics (25.000 €).
In the end, we trust in the SkySpark as a dream that can become reality and are the base point for “green” air freight.
On 20 July 1969, Neil Armstrong, Commander of Apollo 11, putting his foot on the Lunar surface, he said:
“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind”
We believe that the great leaps of mankind can truly be built by small steps.