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Author Topic: The wind powered car  (Read 12730 times)

Offline gaby de wilde

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The wind powered car
« on: January 29, 2008, 04:11:20 AM »
Hello all,

I would like to invite you to help develop a recumbent bicycle with 4
wheels, an electric motor reasonable aerodynamics and a wind turbine.

During normal use almost all of the energy used by a vehicle is lost
though the displacement of air. But, if we have a high pressure zone
and a low pressure zone we can extract energy and regenerate some of
those losses back onto the propulsion.

Moving close-to or even up the wind we may use the combination of
human power and electric power to amplify this wind.

The wall like cycling up the wind phenomenon is something every
cyclist should be familiar with. This wind power exceeds the power
needed to move the vehicle forwards. The energy extracted by the
turbine is stored as kinetic energy but is also increasing the
available wind pressure.

The wind car is not intended to be a real car but to be a fun freeware
project that gets us places. I hope for you to help me design a
vehicle roughly costing 200 euro/dollar to build using off the shelve
parts. It is my believe that such miracle savings may be accomplish
though pure resourcefulness.  A set of old bike wheels doesn't have to
cost much, Constructing a frame doesn't have to cost much,  An
electric motor doesn't have to cost much. (as low as 20$), If you own
battery powered tools you can use those batteries and buy some extra
to save money. The suggested wind motor doesn't involve much more as
an axle, some blades and a chain. The cabin can be made of tent
materials. A cheap 10 watt solar panel can keep the battery topped
off, combined with charging on the wind this may prove more then
sufficient never to need to recharge it or to plug-in some new

I invite you all to help design this vehicle by posting your opinion/
thoughts/suggestions good or bad happy or sad. :-)

Thank you,

Gaby de Wilde


Offline hansvonlieven

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Re: The wind powered car
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2008, 08:29:05 AM »
ever heard of a Flettner rotor?

Hans von Lieven

Offline gaby de wilde

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Re: The wind powered car
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2008, 06:30:47 PM »
On Jan 29, 4:10 pm, DirtRoadie <> wrote:
> gabydewilde wrote:
> > The wall like cycling up the wind phenomenon is something every
> > cyclist should be familiar with.
> > This wind power exceeds the power
> > needed to move the vehicle forwards.
> Then the vehicle is no longer moving forward, is it?

Any amount of energy is always sufficient to move a load. The wind power always exceeds the power needed to move a vehicle forwards. Force is not work. It's just a matter of leverage. If you can translate 1 percent of the drag back onto the wheels it suffers 1 percent less drag. Standing still the turbine is already spinning. It means the energy available is always above zero.

> OK,  how much power does it take to move the vehicle? And how much
> MORE power does it take when you add the drag of a turbine sticking up
> in the windstream?

I see you are not comfortable with the huge frontal surface area. hehe

The wind pushing against the sail of a sailboat is making it move forwards. A sailboat sails on watter just like the turbine blade sails around it's axle. The wind is increasing their speed rather then decreasing it. More sail area is good. A sail boat goes faster that way.

> (Note that if the turbine is generating power it is
> NOT freewheeling
> or, conversely, if the turbine is freewheeling it is NOT generating power)

I know what you mean but I think you are forgetting about the cabin and assuming a wind speed of zero.  You know that almost all of the energy used by a vehicle is used to push air aside.

You know that by driving up the wind we only need to invest a little bit of energy to get a lot of drag in return.  This is more then sufficient to supply the original seed power.

Look at the sailboat, the fast it goes the more the apparent wind appears from straight ahead. This is what allows sailing faster as the wind.

But we didn't just have wind at our disposal, we also had human power and electrics.

So we start with say a wind of 5 mph and we accelerate bionically to say 5 mph then we have wind of 10 mph which holds 4 times as much energy.

Let us imagine the wind is made of little sand grains. If we can engineer their impact into the plus then going faster will also increase the number of particles striking the rotor.

Thus, the more you pedal the more you increase the wind power. At 60 we still suffer drag as if we are going 65 mph. The difference between 0 and 5 mph wind is much smaller as that between 60 and 65.


normal ecar:

battery -> motor -> motion -> drag

wind car:

battery+wind -> motor+turbine+pedals -> motion -> drag+wind+battery -> motor+turbine+pedals -> motion -> drag+drag+wind+battery

seems obvious enough to me?

> Type 1

All energy is accounted for. The device limits losses it doesn't create perpetual motion. The Rotoverter modification does something just like that.

It's free energy though shifting the efficiency goalposts a bit. Not a perpetual motion device.

Even if I knew how to build something like that I wouldn't want it on this vehicle. The wind car is suppose to be a means of transportation. It's more then weird enough the way it is already. If it would also be a perpetual motion device you would have to pay for transportation in ridicule. I would consider that a serious design flaw. Of course I knew eventually some one would try to call a windmill a perpetual motion device. That is exactly the way I like to design things. ha-ha

I guess you are right. The ambient flux of zeropoint energy is just about the same thing as the ambient wind. A car is made for the road, and on the road there is wind. Making unrealistic changes to the road would render any vehicle useless. Even if it was powered by gravity, cosmic radio, permanent magnets, noble gas, hydrogen soup etc etc

If the road was vertical an SUV would be useless on it. If there isn't any wind where you live then a sail car is an awful idea.

Perhaps solar is great where you live.

If you have 250 watt worth of electrical assist and you want to drive an hour per day vs 12 hours of charging then a 20 watt panel can do the trick already.

If half an hour of full throttle is enough for you a 10 watt panel may prove sufficient.

Say you do everything wrong and it ends up generating enough for just 10 min per day if you match that with batteries you can still cycle perfectly and buy more solar later.

Take this beauty.
"The rotor sweeps an area of 26cm wide by 60cm high (= 0.156 square meters). Therefore (according to the calculation of wind power) there is around 8 Watts of wind energy available in a 10mph wind, and around 60 Watts in a 20mph wind. However VAWT type wind turbines are inherently quite inefficient and so no more then 20-30% of this wind energy can be exploited and sent to the batteries."

Lets make it a bit bigger.

say 3 X 26 cm = 78
and 2 X 60 cm = 120
then we get 0.156 X 6 = 0.936 square meters

Then  6 X 8 watt = 48 watt
And 6 X 60 watt = 360 watt

Assuming 20% efficiency we would have 10 to 72 watt left to charge the batteries with. all day long! Just looking at the energy cost it would take a hundred years to earn back the investment.

But if we use only 1/4 kwh per day it can be made to self charge.

The profit is in the fun of building and driving it.

If you pedal hard enough people will think it really works.


Offline gaby de wilde

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Re: The wind powered car
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2008, 06:46:32 PM »
ever heard of a Flettner rotor?

Hans von Lieven

Hello Hans,

Yes, it does relate to the concept. I think it's Wikipeida page is here now. lol

Or read it in the original German:

This rotor however does use a motor, my intend was to use a more conventional wind turbine. (if there is such a thing)

It should also allow for charging up battery banks. That's at least just as important/beneficial as using it for general propulsion.

+ it also makes loads of sense to everyone - which is nice. :-)

Offline neptune

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Re: The wind powered car
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2008, 07:13:45 PM »
I don't know if this is relevant, but when I was 9 years old I was talking to my dad about sailing ships. He told me that it was not possible to sail headwind, except by tacking. To prove him wrong, I built a model land-yacht which would sail directly headwind. It was made from mechano, and had a wind turbine driving the axle through a reduction gear. It worked! What i did not do, was to experiment with gear ratios, to determine max speed relative to wind speed. It is cheaper to experiment with models. this could be a good starting point.

Offline gaby de wilde

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Re: The wind powered car
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2008, 02:37:17 AM »
Yes, lots of toys have been produced.

The ideal gearing I haven't figured out jet.

There seems to be a lot of difference between the turbine designs, how much drag they generate is some what of an exotic statistic.

The vertical kind does well in random gusts of wind.

It makes sense to spin it over the angle of the planet surface but for a vehicle it just seems weird.

I do have some rather funky looking designs using vertical axles on my mind. :)

lets see if I can draw one....