Nestlé Research on board as Solar Impulse returns to the skies

Sunday 24 April 2016

Dubai - MENA Herald: Nestlé Research was on board today as Solar Impulse, the world’s first attempt to circumnavigate the globe in a solar powered aircraft, took off from Honolulu, Hawaii. As Solar Impulse continues its Round the World mission, Nestlé Research is working hand in hand with pioneers Bertrand Piccard and André Borschberg, to ensure that they have the fuel they need to sustain themselves for the continuation of their global voyage.

This global mission presents an unprecedented endurance test. Staying healthy and well-nourished is vital to mission success. To help the pilots withstand extreme temperatures, low oxygen and high stress levels while navigating the 1’600 kg lightweight carbon-fibre aircraft 8’500 m above the earth, a team of eight Nestlé Research experts has developed healthy, tasty, tailor-made menus as well as adapted packaging solutions.

Nestlé Research has worked closely with the Solar Impulse team for over five years, developing a range of meals and snacks that can withstand extreme variations in temperature and climatic conditions, whilst providing the optimal nutrition. As part of the mission, a dedicated nutrition expert will provide ongoing support and will monitor the pilots’ health.

“We are proud to support the pioneering work of Solar Impulse. The challenges that the pilots face are immense and it is gratifying to know that the science based expertise our team is providing will help enable the pilots to complete their mission,” said Stefan Catsicas, Chief Technology Officer, Nestlé S.A. “Not only are we able to bring our knowledge to the mission, but we see great benefits in being able to apply the learnings we are gaining through our partnership to the personalized nutritional needs of everyday life.”

The scientific rigour required to produce the food for Solar Impulse has been considerable. All of the meals must be nutritionally balanced, easy to prepare and consume at 8’500 m, and be able to withstand temperatures fluctuating from -20C° to +35C°. Specially designed menus take into account the stresses being applied to the pilots’ bodies, as well as the different nutritional needs they have when flying at various altitudes for an extended period of time. At high altitude, the diet prepared by the Nestlé experts is high in carbohydrates and water, with higher levels of fat to help the pilots better deal with the colder temperatures. As the plane goes below 3’500 m, the pilots consume high protein meals that are larger in size.

The packaging ensures that the pilots’ food stays fresh for up to three months without artificial preservatives. It is designed to allow the pilots to easily prepare and consume the food as they are operating in a confined space and at times are wearing oxygen masks.

The daily supply of up to 11 meals includes popular brands such as Nestlé water, NESCAFÉ, Fitness breakfast cereals, Nido milk powder, Resource protein shake, Gerber yoghurt, Cailler chocolate and a range of re-heatable custom-made meals including mushroom risotto, potato gratin and steamed rice with chicken.

“The right food and nutrition are critical to the success of our mission, sustaining us for the long journey around the earth. By working closely with the team at Nestlé Research, we have the confidence that we will have the energy and fulfilment necessary to achieve our goals as we are pushed to our physical limits,” said Bertrand Piccard, Initiator, Chairman and Pilot of Solar Impulse.

The data captured during the flight and the knowledge gained from the five years of work with the Solar Impulse team, will provide valuable insights for the development of future products -including foods that meet the needs of specific groups.. For example, through working with the pilots, who have restricted movements and lower appetites in flight while still demanding high energy, Nestlé Research is gaining valuable insights that could transfer to specific food solutions designed for older people.

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