People often say that China, despite being a power house of manufacturing, does very little in the way of innovation. This is just not true. The Chinese have given us gunpowder, fortune cookies, and the floating bed.
Most recently, one Chinese man set out to make a wind powered car and claims he succeeded – but did he?
A video report of his story was put up on YouTube and comments were divided on the plausibility of this wind car, but no definitive answers have been put forth.
According to the video, 55-year-old farmer Tang Zhenping put this car together from various spare parts and mounted a “wind turbine” on the grill. He claims that when the car reaches 40mph (60km/h), enough wind is generated to create the 1.21 Gigawatts needed to power the flux capacitor… wait, forget about that last part.
When the car is moving between 40mph and its top speed of 70mph (112km/h) the turbine goes to work and charges up the battery, thus extending its life up to three times longer than other electric cars. Already we run into trouble: so this isn’t a wind powered car at all. It’s more like a wind power-assisted car.
Comments to the video were generally negative, suggesting that the fan probably does more harm than good for the car. Those seem like perfectly reasonable criticisms especially when you look at the thing.
However, beyond looking like a soap box racer, the car seems to have the appropriate specs to get a boost from wind power. The blades are densely spaced to collect a large amount of wind yet and they seemed to be angled well to lower resistance on the car.
Although the body isn’t much to look at it seems to provide a path for the air to flow somewhat smoothly. Combine that with its obvious light weight and it could very well keep his battery charged better than your typical electric car.
That probably has more to do with the lack of any instrumentation that most modern cars have and its weight than the power of wind. In fact, he would probably benefit more by rigging an alternator.
Through the unscientific process of plucking a random alternator from the web I found its Wattage to be 1.9kW. A random wind turbine that looked similar to Mr. Tang’s, the Energy Ball V100 could put out 500W tops.
Mr. Tang has been looking around for a buyer of his technology but no one had bitten so far. Nevertheless, it was a dream of his to make his own electric car since he was a young man and he accomplished it in only three months for just US$1,600. That’s something he can be proud of.
It’s also symbolic of China’s rise to become both the leading consumer of automobiles and the leading producer of wind electricity in the world in the last decade.