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DuPont Helps Launch Solar-Powered Boat

Thursday, April 8, 2010

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PlanetSolar, described as the largest solar-powered boat ever built, has entered the sea armed with high-tech photovoltaic modules and high-performance marine coatings supplied by DuPont Co. Inc.

DuPont said it supplied advanced photovoltaic modules and high-performance marine coatings for the vessel, which was officially launched March 31 in the Baltic Sea. The boat is undergoing test operations before being transferred to the Mediterranean Sea, in preparation for a global-circumnavigation cruise in 2011.

PlanetSolar, 31 meters long and 15 meters wide, is covered by 500 square meters of photovoltaic solar panels that power an electric motor. The solar-powered world tour will demonstrate that renewable energy and technology can contribute to the goal of sustainable transportation, DuPont said in an announcement on its role in the project.

 PlanetSolar under construction

“Using technology and our knowledge to improve our energy efficiency and promote renewable energies is the path toward a lasting world,” said Raphael Domjan, founder and skipper of the PlanetSolar project. “PlanetSolar wants to show that solutions exist.”

The vessel’s 1,300-square-meter external surface and the entire interior area, including the cockpit, have been painted with high-performance DuPont Marine coatings. The cockpit was painted with DuPont ™ PercoTop® 449, a polyurethane topcoat system, while the external structure was painted with DuPont ™ Imron® Marine, a polyurethane designed to deliver a combination of appearance, durability, and eye-catching color characteristics. The materials are specifically formulated for marine conditions, where UV-resistant and highly durable coatings are essential for the long-lasting performance of ships and boats.

The PlanetSolar project, launched two years ago, is described as an international venture that involves the contributions of a team of physicists, engineers, boat builders, and environmental-protection specialists, according to the PlanetSolar website (

“PlanetSolar is more than a solar boat. It is the very concrete demonstration of how science and technology can transform the sun’s potential into clean energy,” said Ian Hudson, president, DuPont Europe, Middle East & Africa. “This project showcases solutions that help raise mainstream awareness of sustainable alternatives in the transportation industry. We are very proud to be part of this project.”

The photovoltaic modules used to power the boat will be exposed to a harsh marine environment, and the full range of materials that make up the solar modules must be highly durable, DuPont said. DuPont™ Tedlar® polyvinyl fluoride (PVF) film, used as a component of the photovoltaic backsheet, plays a key part in protecting modules, the company said.

DuPont said the generation and storage of renewable energy is expected to be the fastest-growing segment of the energy market for the next 20 years. The company said it is projecting that its global sales in the photovoltaic sector could exceed $1 billion by 2012. DuPont’s Photovoltaic Solutions business is a major technology supplier to the photovoltaic industry, with more than 25 years of experience in photovoltaic materials development and a portfolio of materials and technology solutions designed to increase the efficiency and lifetime of photovoltaic modules.

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