Wind-powered car completes 3,100 mile test ride across Australia

Feb 16, 2011 by Katie Gatto weblog

(PhysOrg.com) -- Score some points for the green set this week! In Australia a wind-powered car has completed a roughly three-week, 3,100 mile test ride.

The journey took 18 days and spanned the continent of Australia, with the two designers splitting the drive time. The vehicle can now boast holding several records for wind-powered vehicles. Some of the records set include: the first vehicle powered by wind to cross a continent, the longest overall distance covered, and the longest distance covered by a wind-powered vehicle in 36 hours.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

The car, which is powered by a 8kWh , just like many currently available to consumers on the market, but this one gets its juice not from the plug, but from a mobile wind turbine. The wind turbine is supported by a 20-foot telescopic bamboo mast. The car does have a plug available for times when it is not windy out.

The car, which has been aptly named the Wind Explorer, was constructed by two intrepid German adventurers: Dirk Gion and Stefan Simmerer, who over a period of about six-months. The end product, which is a carbon-emissions free vehicle, weighs a scant 440 pounds. This weight is fairly amazing when you consider that the Nissan Leaf and the each weigh about 3,500 pounds. This weight becomes no surprise when you look at the vehicle, which roughly resembles a egg with two head rests sticking out of the top. The body is made of a mounted onto an aluminum frame. The tires used on this car come from a racing bicycle. They were chosen to reduce drag.

The Wind Explorer reached a top speed of about 55 mph on this journey.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.


Explore further: Ambitious EU targets for renewable energies make economic sense

More information: www.wind-explorer.com/index.php/start_en

Related Stories

Wind-powered car goes down wind faster than the wind

Jun 04, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A wind-powered car has been clocked in the US traveling down wind faster than the wind. In a recent run at New Jerusalem in Tracy, California, the car reached a top speed of more than 2.85 ...

Chicago EV Charging Station Powered by Wind

Feb 17, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The "Windy City" is about to make use of that natural source of power, thanks to the addition of an electric vehicle (EV) charging station. Last year, Chicago offered the first solar powered charging station, in an effort to cre ...

Image: X-51A Makes Longest Scramjet Flight

Jun 03, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- The X-51A successfully made the longest supersonic combustion ramjet-powered hypersonic flight to date off the southern California coast on May 26. It was powered by a SJX61-2 that was first ...

Sleek new MIT solar car heads to the races

Feb 25, 2009

MIT's Solar Electric Vehicle Team, the oldest such student team in the country, has just finished construction of its latest high-tech car and will be unveiling it to the public this Friday from 3 to 5 p.m. ...

Recommended for you

Should the Japanese give nuclear power another chance?

22 hours ago

On September 9, 2014, the Japan Times reported an increasing number of suicides coming from the survivors of the March 2011 disaster. In Minami Soma Hospital, which is located 23 km away from the power plant, ...

UK wind power share shows record rise

Oct 24, 2014

The United Kingdom wind power production has been enjoying an upward trajectory, and on Tuesday wind power achieved a significant energy production milestone, reported Brooks Hays for UPI. High winds from Hurricane Gonzalo were the force behind wind turbines outproducing nuclear power ...

Global boom in hydropower expected this decade

Oct 24, 2014

An unprecedented boom in hydropower dam construction is underway, primarily in developing countries and emerging economies. While this is expected to double the global electricity production from hydropower, it could reduce ...

User comments : 23

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Quantum_Conundrum
5 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2011
I can see the future is going to be 500 million of these on the freewa....

Oh wait...yeah...That'll be one tangled mess of rope to sort out.
Going
5 / 5 (2) Feb 16, 2011
Just get the kite down before you get to those high voltage power lines.
kaasinees
not rated yet Feb 16, 2011
What is the materials made of and how are they produced, since this car is carbon-emmsion free vehicle? And what are the tires made of and what are they driving on?

Right.. there is no such thing is carbon-emission free vehicles.
Egleton
4.8 / 5 (4) Feb 16, 2011
Well, I live in Australia. When China's economy crashes this is going to beat pushing a wheel barrow across the Gibber Plains.

But I think that an even better idea is to abandon wheels altogether (They need maintained roads).

We need to put some thought in how to get gliders up into the air without burning carbon. There is plenty of energy in the form of thermals up there where the air is cool.
Self launched Apis gliders from Slovenia powered by a 40kW stepper motor is a stepper in the right direction.
But there is lots of development to be done and the market is wide open.
Compressed air anyone?

I guess that you Yanks will say that it will not solve the problem of how to get to McDonalds.
For that I suggest you use a space shuttle.
scenage
not rated yet Feb 16, 2011
Well, I live in Australia. When China's economy crashes this is going to beat pushing a wheel barrow across the Gibber Plains.

But I think that an even better idea is to abandon wheels altogether (They need maintained roads).

We need to put some thought in how to get gliders up into the air without burning carbon. There is plenty of energy in the form of thermals up there where the air is cool.
Self launched Apis gliders from Slovenia powered by a 40kW stepper motor is a stepper in the right direction.
But there is lots of development to be done and the market is wide open.
Compressed air anyone?

I guess that you Yanks will say that it will not solve the problem of how to get to McDonalds.
For that I suggest you use a space shuttle.


High five to a fellow Aussie :D

I don't know about gliders... heights make me do bad things to my under garments :P

Not sure what to suggest, depends on where you are. Whether there is wind and lots of it and sun.
Jody_Coakley
5 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2011
i wonder if this technology can be applied to long haul airships.
Quantum_Conundrum
5 / 5 (1) Feb 16, 2011
i wonder if this technology can be applied to long haul airships.


Airships are the key. I've been saying this for a while now.

Airships with solar powered propellers for primary thrust and control. Helium is inert and does not burn.

Bouyancy provides the lift, and sunlight provides the power. You would use the electric engines to position yourself in atmospheric currents such as the jet stream, just like a sail boat in the sky. Final Fantasy style.

People got in their heads that "faster is always better". NOt so. Recently, shipping companies have actually discovered that if they slow their ships down by 10% they will actually save 20% on fuel costs.

Profit margins would actually increase if people wouldn't be in such a hurry.

Our technology out-paced itself. The Zeppelin was actually more advanced than the "modern" aircraft after all.
xznofile
not rated yet Feb 16, 2011
a lighter than air flying wing, trailing an impeller on a long tether. when necessary, it finds a cross wind and glides in the upper strata, while banking against the pull of the tether towing the impeller in the lower strata. the current charges batteries or produces hydrogen.
Bog_Mire
not rated yet Feb 17, 2011
why cant we duck tape a little wind turbine onto the roofs of hybrids?
rjsc2000
not rated yet Feb 17, 2011
so, it's the parachute that pushes them? I tought it was a wind turbine
antialias
not rated yet Feb 17, 2011
Oh wait...yeah...That'll be one tangled mess of rope to sort out.

Not really since all the kites are flying in the same direction.

But it won't work, anyways, since as soon as you drive behind another car of the same sort he'll be getting all the power while you (and anyone behind you) will get nothing.
Quantum_Conundrum
5 / 5 (1) Feb 17, 2011
why cant we duck tape a little wind turbine onto the roofs of hybrids?


That's "Duct" tape, with a "t".

And that won't work.

Wind power is determined by:

power = (1/2)*a*d*v^3.

a= area
d= density of air
v= velocity in m/s

So if you have a 10mph wind, that is only 4.44r m/s.

density of air 1.2 kg/m^2.

1 horse power is about 750 watts.

So with a 10mph wind, you need a sail roughly 15m^2, or 3m by 5m, just to have 1 horsepower.

With a 30mph wind, the same sail would give only 28.44 horse power.

55mph wind would equate to 175 horse power.

though you'd actually have a bigger sail, I'm just showing how the formula works.

It takes a BIG sail and a LOT of wind to obtain typical automobile speeds.

A propeller is pointless, because they aren't nearly as efficient as a sail, and you also lose some in the battery as heat, and again converting back from electricity to mechanical work. Additionally, the kite is higher so is in stronger wind.
rjsc2000
not rated yet Feb 17, 2011
Maybe it should be the opposite. The car moves on battery alone. If it travels at 55 mph then you have a 55 mph wind. If it goes to 70 mph you have a 70 mph wind, right? And it charges the battery which then powers the car...
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 17, 2011
The kite is just a distraction.

What is actually important is the fact that they can get on average about 200 Watts from the 1000 Watt wind turbine, so, for a 8 kWh charge they have to stop for...

One and a half days.

But if the winds are favorable and they get the full 1000 Watts, they can stop for a night and continue in the morning. 8 kWh is enough for a full 10 hour drive with a motor power of 1 HP, which is enough to push a velomobile like that along at a good speed. 20-30 mph I would guess.

I wouldn't be surprised if they managed 250 miles on the battery alone.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 17, 2011
From the website:

The Wind Explorer was powered by lithium-ion batteries, recharged by a portable wind turbine whenever wind conditions permitted. The 200 kg vehicle therefore only notched up electricity costs of around €10 for the almost 5000 km trip.


If we assume electricity costs 10 cents a kWh, then they actually bought 100 kWh of electricity.

If we further assume that the top speed on batteries was 20 mph (32 kph), and they got 10 hours of driving like that, then they went 200 miles on each 8 kWh charge.

Adjusting for 80% in/out efficiency, or 10 kWh per every 200 miles, they actually went 2000 miles on electricity bought from the grid. That's 3200 kilometers or 64% of the whole trip!

And then they got the sail assist as well. How little energy did they actually manage to make with that wind turbine?

Something here is fishy.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 17, 2011
Even worse than I thought:

The battery pack with power of 8 kWh enabled the Wind Explorer to run for about 400 km in demanding temperatures of 60° C


So, €10 in electricity, 10 cents per kWh (13.4 AUD), 10 kWh per charge, 10 recharges from the grid, 400 km each, that makes 4000 km worth of energy not generated by wind on a 5000 km trip.

That's 4/5 not a wind powered car.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 17, 2011
Or, to approach it from the other direction and assume that they instead counted how much their electricity would have cost on the grid, assuming that they did 4000 km on wind electricity, that suggests that they built their wind turbine from scrap that cost only €10

Still sounds fishy.

Because those things cost around €2000-3000 and as such, they would have needed to run the turbine 24/7 for nearly 15 years without a single breakdown to get the cost of electricity down to the 10 cent range. That's beacuse for a turbine of that size, the weather generally permits it to produce less than 20% of its rated output on average.

Anyways, kudos for the incredibly efficient velomobile, but seriously, enough with the smoke and mirrors on the actual costs.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 17, 2011
Ah. Should have read the entire site before jumping to conclusions:

Approx: 2,100 km with electricity from the grid, during technical adjustments and fine-tuning of vehicle components. Because of unusual weather conditions caused by storm "Yasi" the wind mill could not be used.

Approx. 2,280 km with wind-generated electricty.

Approx. 420 km by kites.

For the 2.100 KM with grid power the Wind Explorer needed 42 Kilowatt electricity. With 0,24€ for a KW/h that costs 10,08€, with 0,23€ for a KW/h it costs 9,66€.


Was right about the kite being a mere distraction though. They managed about one full day worth of travel on it.
Bog_Mire
not rated yet Feb 18, 2011
QC do a little research on "Duck Tape" and you may start to *gasp* not be quite so sure *gasp* of your all knowing, all seeing omnipotence and brilliance...you really must struggle to hold on to friends, unless you are just a turd head on the interweb.
Jody_Coakley
not rated yet Feb 18, 2011
tom"ay"to/tom"a"to
thanx for the equation QC
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 19, 2011
tom"ay"to/tom"a"to
thanx for the equation QC


The equation is incomplete because it calculates how much kinetic energy per second there is in wind, thus the power of it, but neglects to take into account that you can't catch all that power.

The maximum theoretically obtainable power is about 59%, or the Betz's law, and many turbine/sail/kite designs achieve much less than that, depending on the wind speeds and various other factors.
Eikka
not rated yet Feb 19, 2011
If you have troubles grasping why the Betz' limit is, you can think of it this way:

What would happen if a hypothetical device captured all the energy in an airstream?

The stream would stop. The wind would have to turn into a dead calm, and no more wind could pass through the turbine.
trekgeek1
not rated yet Feb 20, 2011
What's next? Wind powered ships? *scoffs arrogantly*