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Solar-powered catamaran circles the Earth

On Friday, a vessel named Tûranor PlanetSolar will become the first totally solar-powered boat to circumnavigate the Earth.

The V-shape catamaran left Monaco on Sept. 27, 2010, traveled west on a mostly equatorial route, and will return to the Monaco Yacht Club 584 days later having covered roughly 28,600 nautical miles.

The carbon-fiber boat, 102 by 50 feet, has a flat deck that is plastered with 5,700 square feet of solar panels that charge six banks of lithium-ion batteries that can generate up to 93.5 kilowatts of power (about 127 horsepower). Top speed: 15 knots.

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