Wind-powered car sails its way across continent

By Astrid Madsen - 16 Feb 2011 13:15:0 GMT
Wind-powered car sails its way across continent

The Wind Explorer, a wind-powered vehicle recently completed journey across Australia.

You've heard of solar powered cars, now it's time to welcome wind powered vehicles, which by and large avail of the same basic technology - bar the kites and the turbine!

The ''Wind Explorer'' is the brainchild of Stefan Simmerer and Dirk Gion who both built and drove the car across Australia.

''Never before has a wind-powered vehicle covered a distance of 493.5km within 36 hours'' the inventors' website claims, a feat which was achieved on the 31st of January 2011. ''The Wind Explorer combines technologies that are available today, but neither sensibly or fully utilized.''

Costing just 10 euro in electricity to drive across Australia, the 'windmobile' recently completed its 5,000km journey thanks to a pack of lithium ion batteries, low friction tires, kites, a wind turbine and a super light frame. The carbon fibre ''sandwich technology'' weighs as much as the batteries, at 90kg, while the wind turbine only added another 20kg to the car.

While the vehicle is made of the same materials, and of a similar aerodynamic form, used to build formula one race cars, it can't go as fast - the maximum speed reached was of 80km/h, and the most economic power consumption stood at 45km/h to 60km/h. Which isn't bad considering a full battery charge costs less than 2 euro and allowed the wind drivers to clock up 200km before having to ''refuel''!

When the wind was strong enough kites were used to propel the vehicle, a method which allowed them to cover 420km during their journey. The wind turbine, for its part, was able to directly contribute to about 2,280km and the rest was supplied by the battery. The drivers reached their destination on the 12th of February.