Friday, April 3, 2009

Wind powered cars - Are they fast?

Wind powered cars look to most people like some sorts of fantasy cars from future but there are some people that do not wait for future to show what these cars can actually do. One of these people is Richard Jenkins, British engineer from Hampshire who broke the world land speed record for a wind-powered vehicle by reaching speed of 126.1mph (202.9km/h) in his Greenbird car on the dry plains of Ivanpah Lake in Nevada. Definitely respectful result for a wind powered vehicle.

Jenkins said it took him 10 years of hard work for this achievement but in the end all the hard work payed off. His vehicle is a carbon fibre composite vehicle that uses just wind for power, and the only metalwork used in its building is for the wing bearings and the wheel unit.

His Greenbird weighs 600kg when it's standing still, and due to the shape of the craft, especially at such high speeds designers have added small wings to "stick" the car to the ground, which is basically the same principle as the one used in Formula 1. Jenkins broke the previous record by more than 10 miles (previous record was held by American Bob Schumacher with reaching 116 mph in 1999, driving his Iron Duck vehicle).

Building a wind powered car is great challenge to engineers so it is really no surprise that Jenkins needed 10 years to create his super fast wind powered car. Whole bunch of variations and principles must be used to make it happen. We are talking here about a combination of Bernoulli Principle, aerodynamics, vortex airflows, wake turbulence, lift, sails, low air pressure exploits, lasers, gravity, sound thickening and molecular alignment of molecules of air, propellers, and bunch of other things that mean the difference between success and failure. So warm congratulation to Mr. Jenkins.