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Conversion Question: Wind-powered Electric Car?

by Richard Smith
(Tehachapi, Ca.)

Could a wind turbine mounted on an electric car recharge the batteries?

I wonder if using the wind turbines that are used in homes in the off the grid areas would be more useful than a generator for extending an electric car's range. Of course the turbine blades would not be used, but if they were at the back end of the car lying low and the air was forced through a tunnel using a somewhat of a turbo charger looking fan to turn them, would they be able to generate the power while driving and charge the batteries for a longer run?

Hi, Richard -
Well, to be honest, I haven't the slightest idea.

I'm inclined against it, though, and this is why: if your turbines are well-enough positioned to capture the wind energy produced by your car's forward progress, then that means they're also badly-enough positioned to cause a fair amount of drag.

The folks in the video seem to have gotten it right, though! What do I know?

I have one thing to say about range: most folks don't really need as much of it as they think they do - it's just that they're in the gas-guzzler habit of tanking up at the petrol pump once a week (or whatever) instead of plugging in at home every night.
I think it's possible that a lot of the "range problem" with EV's could be solved if reconsidered as a "habit problem" and attacked that way.


Comments for Conversion Question: Wind-powered Electric Car?

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Wind powered car
by: Ranching

So when I was growing up my neighbor built a Subaru wagon 1979 maybe into an electric car with a turbine on top and battery bank. It was a true turbine like you see on a plane. He had two on his roof ..

Simple Physics
by: David W

Greetings! Here is the situation as I see it: use chemical energy stored in the batteries converted to electrical energy that is converted to mechanical energy by the motor to move the car. If some of that mechanical energy is then converted back into electrical energy (via a wind turbine), it will be less efficient, as no generator or motor is perfectly efficient (and there will be significant loss due to the fan blades of the turbine - max theoretical efficiency of less than 70%). Thus, you will net waste energy.

There is no free lunch. It is the law of conservation of energy. Every process has losses. Taking the moving air (that you in fact are generating by moving the car) and turning that back into electrical energy will only cause more energy waste.

The youtube video is a gimmick. Having all of those "generators" will only cause a ton more drag (equal to the amount of power they are converting to electricity) that the drive motor will have to provide, and the car will have to be recharged sooner. The "generators" are also generating heat in their windings which will never be recovered.

I hope that makes sense :o)

Tehachapi EV Assn.
by: Anonymous

If someone from Tehachapi knows who the contact is for the planned local EV Assn., please let me know...I'm interested.

A planning meeting was held at the Tehachapi Central park a few weeks ago, and I had to work that evening. There were no names or numbers on the flyer announcing the meeting, so I have/had no way to find out more.

Any response will be appreciated.

Fred Shaughnessy

You dismissed that too quickly
by: Scott R.

I have been wondering why nobody has produced actual data on this subject!

Yes, obviously it will create more drag. That is assumed. Does the drag equal the production? What if there were several? How many would you need to produce more than what is wasted in drag?

This was a good question and you dismissed it without research!

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