Hump day Hilarity – China’s wind powered car

The world has been waiting patiently for a solution to the perpetual motion machine problem. Leave it to the Chinese to solve it. Now, where the hell is my flying car Popular Science has been promising me for 50 years? I want mine to be electric. /sarc

From SkyNews -

Wind-Powered Car ‘Could Cut China’s Smog’

Holly Williams, China correspondent

A Chinese farmer has invented a wind-powered electric car that he says could save his country from the pollution caused by its rapidly growing car market.

But in a small tractor workshop, 55-year-old farmer Tang Zhenping has invented the prototype of a car that he believes could revolutionise China’s auto industry.

Mr Tang’s model – built in just three months for around £1,000 – is electric.

Its engine uses scrap parts from a motorcycle and electric scooter, while its steering wheel, upholstery and headlights all come from a Chinese-made Xiali hatchback.

l-williams-in-wind-car

But what makes the one-seater special is the turbine on its nose.

When the car reaches 40mph, the blades spring into action and begin generating pollution-free power.

“It works just like a windmill,” said Mr Tang, who claims the turbine gives his vehicle three times the battery life of other electric cars.

Full story here

h/t to Bishop Hill

UPDATE: This comment on the Facebook page was too funny not to share.

Rik Magers commented on wattsupwiththat’s post.

Rik wrote: “Not only does it defy the laws of physics by powering itself, but he picked up a chick in it! Hope this is the prototype for the new Chevy Volt.”

About these ads
This entry was posted in Fun_stuff and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

153 Responses to Hump day Hilarity – China’s wind powered car

  1. ZT says:

    I’m still waiting for spaghetti trees…

  2. Severian says:

    Wait, I thought this was mid May not April 1st…

  3. Curiousgeorge says:

    I wonder how many bugs it takes to begin to degrade the aerodynamic efficiency of the front mounted house fan? ;)

  4. tadchem says:

    What we *really* need is a machine that converts wind power into crude oil.

  5. Mickey Reno says:

    The little turbine must be like a sports hero, giving 110%.

  6. cknlitl says:

    It’s called the Smart For1.1

  7. dave ward says:

    When can we expect to see commercial airliners fitted with wind turbines? Just think how much “free” energy they could develop at 500 knots…

  8. elftone says:

    ZT says:
    May 16, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I’m still waiting for spaghetti trees…

    Precisely :D.

  9. DavidA says:

    No problems with this, he’s harnessing drag to spin a generator. Whether it proves to be worthwhile or not well done to Mr Tang for having a crack.

  10. Neil Jones says:

    Just for ZT

  11. Martin C says:

    OK, (as I’m sure many will comment): the battery moves the car forward, the forward movement through the air powers the turbine (looks like a big fan ), which then charges the battery, resulting in more energy in the battery than without the turbine . . .

    . . . yeah, right . . .

    . . so then the next ‘logical’ step is to put MORE fans on front, creating more electricity, so that the battery never loses its charge. at that point the battery can be removed . . . and VOILA, perpetual motion . . . !

    Hilarity is just the first word for this I can think of . . .

    . . do I dare even way that without the ‘turbine’, the car would go farther on a battery charge in the first place . . .?

  12. Frederick Davies says:

    This must be a joke; not even a journalist would fall for a Perpetual Motion Machine.

    FD

  13. DickF says:

    Dave, it’s been done. Many modern aircraft are equipped with a Ram Air Turbine (“RAT”). The RAT is normally retracted in flight, but can be extended to produce emergency electrical power in the event of multiple generator or engine failures.

  14. omnologos says:

    Poor Holly…and hasn’t she filmed herself breaking a great deal of H&S regulations???

  15. sadbutmadlad says:

    Spaghetti trees have already been spotted in the wild in 1957 to those not in the UK. (Panaroma on BBC)

  16. “Could cut China’s Smog”

    I don’t know which is more absurd, the claim by the inventor or the quote from Holly Williams. The media has this childlike way about them, all agog with wonder at the might-get benefits of all kinds of things. Nary a question asked. You won’t catch me or anybody else shredding the air in this crossbred fan and flivver anytime soon, but it could do something….not sure what. Maybe offset the effects of of atmospheric black ops.

  17. Jimbo says:

    Sorry mods but Tips and Notes is taking for ever.

    A paper recently published in the journal Weather finds that global summer average sunshine [solar short-wave radiation that reaches Earth's surface] dimmed during the period 1958-1983 [prompting an ice age scare], but markedly increased from 1985-2010. The increase in summer average sunshine between those two periods is 6 Watts per square meter, which dwarfs the alleged effects of CO2 by more than 5 times. [Alleged CO2 effect from 1958-2010 was calculated using the IPCC formula 5.35*ln(389.78/315) = 1.14 Watts per square meter].
    http://hockeyschtick.blogspot.com/2012/05/new-paper-finds-large-increase-in.html

  18. Crimson75 says:

    Throw a couple solar panels on it and you have the renewa-mobile

  19. Bret says:

    Well, it is sometimes possible to extract wind energy when going faster than the wind. For example, the following is about a wind powered car that goes directly down wind faster than the wind (DDWFTTW):

    http://green.autoblog.com/2010/07/16/ddwfttw-a-wind-car-that-can-go-faster-than-the-wind-also-in/

    It’s not perpetual motion since wind is required, it’s just counterintuitive. But then so are sailboats that go faster than the wind at an angle to the wind and those have been demonstrated for decades.

  20. Ric Werme says:

    It’ll be fun to see how much coverage this gets from the MSM, but I’ll let someone else have Google News keep tabs on it.

  21. Tom J says:

    Sounds like an an absolutely wonderful idea. Besides wind turbines all over the countryside we can now have wind turbines all over our cars. Wind turbine boats. Wind turbine temples and halls of worship. Wind turbine necklaces. I’d be a little afraid of a wind turbine jock strap though.

  22. jorgekafkazar says:

    China has obviously begun a new, secret five year plan to “overtake and surpass” Northern California in green technology idiocy. O, the inanity!

  23. Keith Battye says:

    Sky were happily running that video and speaking with admiring tones. I was, unfortunately, imbibing a cold beverage which has now made my keyboard a bit of a water hazard.

    Perpetual motion machines are always fun but the meedja types should have a bit less credulity methinks.

  24. Gail Combs says:

    ZT says:
    May 16, 2012 at 8:06 am

    I’m still waiting for spaghetti trees…
    ___________________________________
    Forget the spaghetti tree, I want money trees or a flock of golden geese or both to add to my farm.

    This guy would be better off building a chicken-mobile. A guy in Leominster MA had a converted pick-up truck he drove http://journeytoforever.org/biofuel_library/methane_bate.html

  25. Jenn Oates says:

    Well, to be charitable, perhaps he plans to only travel downhill. :)

  26. Bob Diaz says:

    I’m sure the IPCC should be interested, because they have and endless supply of hot air!!!

    ;-))

  27. Mungman says:

    Wouldn’t you need a sail to make it wind powered rather than a fan?

  28. Garry Stotel says:

    Never mind that the “turbine” is pathetic and violates basic physics laws hence cannot work.
    He might as well paint flames on the sides of the car, and claim that this makes the car “supercharged” and make it go even faster.
    What it does perfectly, and according to design, is making this guy famous and rich.
    We are humans like children, believing in miracles, and getting upset if told that they don’t work, thus ignoring the voice of reason. I have seen it so many times….. Also, listening to the voice of reason betrays own ignorance, ergo avoided as much as possible.
    What is annoying and scary is that such idiots can get into power, and vote, and have the audacity to believe in higher moral standing.

  29. Thanks SKY NEWS. Should have waited for the 1st of April to announce this.
    This is the day for perpetual motion ideas. .

  30. Ben Wilson says:

    Any chance that this is a prank by, say, students from Cal Tech??

  31. TomT says:

    They stole my idea, but I would put the blades on top of the car and have them on a poll like real wind turbines. To start my car you would wind up the blades with a rubber band like you used to do on old balsa wood toy airplanes. Once it got going the wind created from it moving forward would keep it going by turning the turbines. That should work, right?

  32. dscott says:

    Well not so fast, perpetual motion machines aside, at least he is recapturing some energy from the wind turbulence just like one would do with regenerative braking. It is primarily regenerative braking that makes current electric hybrids more fuel efficient than conventional engines. The person who figures out how to cut wind resistance on vehicles by either reducing drag OR recovering some of the energy lost in drag is going to be a very rich person. Hilarity aside, he just might be on to something, just not the right something. Put the turbine in the back in the low pressure pocket (this is why NASCAR drivers draft team mates vehicles) and see what kind of energy recapture you get…

  33. Justa Joe says:

    Looks like the car is already a success. The creator is picking up chicks.
    http://news.sky.com/sky-news/content/StaticFile/jpg/2012/May/Week3/16228753

    LOL @ rear mounted vertical stabilizer. It’s a bit scary how many people are actually buying into this vehicle in the comments section of the Sky News website.

  34. Matthew W says:

    Gail Combs says:
    May 16, 2012 at 9:09 am
    ___________________________________
    Forget the spaghetti tree, I want money trees or a flock of golden geese or both to add to my farm.
    ==================================================
    Or a herd of those Unicorns that crap out gold bricks to pay for all silly “green investments”

  35. Don says:

    How plucky of the inventor to risk his valuable prototype in China traffic!

    If a truck ran over MY tiny hand-built electric car, I would be… well… crushed!

  36. Justa Joe says:

    dscott says:
    May 16, 2012 at 9:29 am
    Well not so fast, perpetual motion machines aside, at least he is recapturing some energy from the wind turbulence just like one would do with regenerative braking.
    ————————————–
    The wind ‘turbine’ also creates drag, which means that the car has to put out more power to overcome the additional drag created by the ‘turbine’. Regenerative braking doesn’t cost me anything in terms of power when I’m driving down the road.

  37. Erny72 says:

    DavidA says:
    “No problems with this, he’s harnessing drag to spin a generator…”

    No; he’s creating additional drag to spin a generator and the drag of a non-powered, unfeathered airscrew is the same as sticking a flat disc on the nose, face on to the slipstream. Since this fan is reverse pitched I expect the induced drag is worse.
    Inspector gadget’s scooter motor also has to drag around the weight of a useless lump of iron and copper to reduce the range of his breifly powered dodgem car and help science proof eco-mentalists sleep better at night.

    What’s next? shall we mount electric hairdriers in front of wind-turbines and harness the hot air to spin their generators on a still day?

  38. Chuck Nolan says:

    dscott says:
    May 16, 2012 at 9:29 am
    Well not so fast, perpetual motion machines aside, at least he is recapturing some energy from the wind turbulence just like one would do with regenerative braking. It is primarily regenerative braking that makes current electric hybrids more fuel efficient than conventional engines. The person who figures out how to cut wind resistance on vehicles by either reducing drag OR recovering some of the energy lost in drag is going to be a very rich person. Hilarity aside, he just might be on to something, just not the right something. Put the turbine in the back in the low pressure pocket (this is why NASCAR drivers draft team mates vehicles) and see what kind of energy recapture you get——————-
    You forgot the sarc tag.

    Regenerative braking is using your need to stop or slow the car to an advantage by feeding electrical energy back into the system.
    So as long as Tang Zhenping is wanting to stop his motorcycle and he engages his “turbo fan” while in that process, yes, I could see that adding to the system. But the drag the extra equipment adds during normal operation I think will do more harm than good.
    sarc/off

  39. Tobias says:

    @ DickF:

    Ram Air Turbines on aircraft use the Kinetic energy of an aircraft falling out of the sky to provide just enough electricity to power your emergency system bus. They use gravity, or the thrust of Jet Engines to spin those little blades. Even at 300+ knots they don’t create enough electricity to do much more than pop the ignitors on your motors or run a few guages, they don’t even power up your radios. If a generator with blades turning at 20,000+ rpm on the side of a Jet aircraft travelling at 300 knots can only pop some sparkplugs or get your airspeed indications up and running, that is actually proof that this contraption travelling at 40 mph cannot produce enough electricity to provide a positive effect on it’s electrical system.

  40. Vince Causey says:

    DickF says:
    May 16, 2012 at 8:39 am

    “Dave, it’s been done. Many modern aircraft are equipped with a Ram Air Turbine (“RAT”). The RAT is normally retracted in flight, but can be extended to produce emergency electrical power in the event of multiple generator or engine failures.”

    But the power produced by the RAT, is not additional to the power generated by the engines, is it? Extra power must be generated by the engines to maintain the same flight profile as would be the necessary without the RAT. Yet this article appears to be claiming that the fan is adding power to that which the engine generates. Thus, the car is claiming to be a perpetual motion machine.

  41. Crono141 says:

    “The wind ‘turbine’ also creates drag, which means that the car has to put out more power to overcome the additional drag created by the ‘turbine’. Regenerative braking doesn’t cost me anything in terms of power when I’m driving down the road.”

    But the drag is already there. Mounted in-line it would produce just as much drag as a flat face to the wind. Its not going to propel the car forever, but it is recovering some lost energy, much like regenerative braking.

    Similar deal with HOH generators for IC engines. Sure, we’re taking some energy from the engine in order to produce HOH gas, which then gets combusted with the gasoline so we use less gasoline. There is a demonstrable net gain in fuel efficiency.

    Or the craziest idea (and the one I like the most) is the guy who hooked up a 5th stroke to a 4 stroke engine, where he injects H2O onto the cylinder, producing a steam power stroke. Brilliant, if not impractical in the long term.

  42. Math Genius says:

    This car definitely needs some flames airbrushed on the doors which should increase its speed and therefore the energy for the turbine by at least 20%.

  43. RobWansbeck says:

    Unfortunately this technology is already covered by several US patents. Since the roads aren’t full of these super-efficient vehicles I can only assume that the patents have been bought by big oil to prevent their deployment.

  44. DirkH says:

    The Dutch already have a wind powered car.

  45. Vince Causey says:

    As aviators know, a rotating prop generates more form drag than a non rotating one. Thus, the fan is adding extra drag and forcing the engine to work harder to maintain the same speed. This extra drag creates the spin which powers the generator. Unless the conversion is 100% efficient, then more energy is used up than if the device wasn’t present to begin with.

    This is not the same as recovering power from active braking systems. In this case, all the kinetic energy of the car is used up by braking and would be lost as heat, It can, however, be recovered by linking to a generator system. No matter how inefficient the mechanism, even returning a small amount of energy, is better than loosing the lot to heat. This fan-car, as far as I can make out, must cost more energy than it generates.

  46. TinyCO2 says:

    I don’t know what the big deal is. As any Guardian reader will tell you, these cars have been operating successfully on the island paradise of San Serriffe for years. The most popular model is the Winding mark II. The islanders are very keen to curb CO2 because they know more about coastal erosion than any other nation in the World. I’m expecting a climate change conference to be scheduled there to highlight the plight of those unwillingly nomadic people.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Serriffe

    From back when the Guardian was a good paper with a sense of humour and a relaxed attitude to spelling.

  47. Erny72 says:

    dscott says:
    “…Put the turbine in the back in the low pressure pocket (this is why NASCAR drivers draft team mates vehicles) and see what kind of energy recapture you get…”

    In the low pressure slipsteam behind the car, the fan will be inefficient owing to the relative lack of air impinging on the blades and the turbulent flow (ever wondered how mud and road grime can fly forwards in order to completely mud coat the back of hatchbacks and buses in winter?).
    Alternatively consider how an outboard motor’s revs flare when the propellor cavitates in another boat’s prop wash while speed simultaneous drops sharply.
    Racing cars are able to benefit from a tow when closely following another car because the leading car does the hard work of shoving the ambient air out of the way, meaning the following car has less drag to overcome.

    The best way to ‘use’ the aerodynamics of a car to benefit efficiency are small things, like putting radiators in areas of relatively high pressure to increase the mass-flow of cooling air through the core which should improve the cooling efficiency (and maybe allow smaller, lighter radiators).Which has pretty much already been thought of since radiators are usually in the front…

  48. mojo says:

    In all fairness, all he’s claiming is that the system extends battery life, not that it runs forever.

    That said, only one problem with plan – it STUPID! It stupidest plan I ever hear!

    REPLY: Regenerative braking is the solution for energy recovery on the fly, already incorporated into many electric vehicles. This is just reinventing the fan, er wheel. I’m surprised that a journalist would bother with this story in the serious way she did. – Anthony

  49. Erny72 says:

    By jove I’ve got it!
    we need some cats, some toast and some jam.
    Everyone knows that a cat always lands on it’s feet, and everyone knows that if you drop toast after you spread jam on it it will fall jammy side down; so if we fasten the toast onto a cat’s back, jam side up, then we have a carbon neutral anti-gravity device.
    Even low friction tyres can’t extend a dodgem car’s range like zero friction levitation!
    Now to figure out how to use regurgitated fur-balls for propulsion…
    Stand aside chaps, I’m away off to the patent office and then down to the ministry of Gullible Warming and Silly Walks for my squillion dollar research grant!

  50. DJ says:

    The Mark II model the guy is working on now uses the turbine fan as a motor to bring the car up to 40mph, it then switches over to generation mode which powers the motors at the wheels. It’s a model of ingenuity and efficiency.

    I can’t wait to see how many millions of US taxpayer dollars Obama will throw at the development of this.

  51. John T says:

    I’m not seeing the problem. Its essentially just a hybrid electric car that can use otherwise wasted kinetic energy to supply some of the electricity, which extends the distance you can go on a single battery charge.

    One would think there would be better ways, but given the conditions hinted in the article, maybe not.

    REPLY: The problem of energy loss was solved long ago with regenerative braking, standard on most modern electric vehicles – Anthony

  52. Billy says:

    You don’t “recover” energy from drag by increasing it. The recovery system will yield less than the added loss.
    The future lies in harnessing the power of bafflegab and nonsense. They are in endless supply.

  53. Bill says:

    If the fan is engaged and used to help slow the car and also run going downhill, he could extend battery life a bit.

  54. more soylent green! says:

    Here’s what you do: Mount the fan so it blows air onto a sail mounted out front. Viola! Wind-powered car!

    To boost power, the wheels could wind the rubber band and the rubber band drives the engine.

  55. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    You have all missed the secret source of energy. The blades are made of CO2 and absorb infra red. This is channeled to the back of the car where it reradiates thus helping to drive the car forward.

  56. John T says:

    “The problem of energy loss was solved long ago with regenerative braking, stand on most modern electric vehicles – Anthony”

    And if you don’t have modern electric vehicles? And how many modern electric vehicles can be built for £1,000?

    In the old day, he’s what we’d refer to as a real “hacker”. Someone who takes what he has on hand and makes something better. It doesn’t mean you’re not doing something that hasn’t been done before, it means you’re turning “junk” into something better. Given the resources he had at hand, how many people reading the story could do what he did? I sometimes think we take too much for granted in this country.

    I agree this isn’t going to do much of anything to cut smog (the article was over the top). It wouldn’t win any design awards in this country. And I don’t see this design going into large-scale production. But I admire his spirit. We have modern electric vehicles (and a whole lot of other things) because of people like him. And its someone like him who knows we still haven’t solved the problem of energy loss, just reduced it some.

  57. Steve Richards says:

    There seems to be surprised that Sky ran this, querying the knowledge of the reporter!

    Most reporters have social science degrees etc, they are non technical.

    Looking at the output of BBC news as an example, it appears they are technically ‘totally light’.

  58. RobWansbeck says:

    It would have been far simpler to fit a charge controller that would work than a fan that doesn’t.

  59. Frank Kotler says:

    He can further improve performance by putting big tires on the back and small tires on the front so it’s always going downhill!

  60. Interstellar Bill says:

    The windmill has to be on top of the car, not in front of it, and be highly efficient.
    The windspeed has to be at least 20mph to have enough power density for a car, which has to have very low aero drag and wheel friction.
    An easy way to demonstrate that this is not a perpetual motion machine is to put a propellor on a rod that is threaded oppositely to the propellor pitch. The propellor will spin up the rod, into the wind, since its lift is far more than its drag.

  61. Casper says:

    I still see a small electro car, but it’s hybridized with a wind turbine. I could be compared with a normal hybridized car. It costs an amount of energy from the batteries due to aerodynamic resistance, but it might reach for a longer trip, however.

  62. AnonyMoose says:

    This invention would make sense for a farmer if he leaves it outside on the farm and there often are winds of greater than 40 MPH. Then it could charge the battery for the occasional trip. But if the winds were often over 40 MPH, he could just put a sail on the car.

  63. RobWansbeck says:

    This car could be an earner in the green electricity market.

    You charge the car using ‘evil’ electricity at 10p per kWh then after a day’s driving the remaining charge will be super-green wind produced electricity which you can sell back at 40p per kWh.

    Nice!

  64. Justa Joe says:

    Crono141 says:
    May 16, 2012 at 10:21 am

    But the drag is already there. Mounted in-line it would produce just as much drag as a flat face to the wind. Its not going to propel the car forever, but it is recovering some lost energy, much like regenerative braking.
    ———————————————–
    Guy, it takes horsepower to create electricty(period)

    Mount your car’s alternator on your hood. Lose the drive belt and attach a prop or ‘turbine’ large enough to actually rotate your alternator sufficiently to produce any usuable electrical current. Then tell us if your car encounters any additional drag.

  65. alan says:

    By using Western “laws of physics” to criticise the Chinese wind-powered car, many WUWT posters show a deep-seated culturally insensitivity. The new Chinese wind-powered car will run on Qi (c’hi), the positive (or negative) life force found in “feng shui”. The Chinese have 3500 years of experience with Qi, so I do not think your readers should dismiss this innovation lightly!

  66. Ben Wilson says:

    Gees, what a genius idea. . . . .

    I think it should immediately be incorporated in the California High Speed Rail project. If the house fan bolted to the front of the go-cart works so good at 40 mph, just think how great an eight bladed super deluxe turbo train blade bolted to the front of the High Speed Choo Choo would work!! Wow — you could go from Compton to Stockton without using hardly any energy at all!!

    /sarc off, for those who might not recognize it. . . . .

  67. Alan Watt says:

    I could not help but wonder whether Ms. Williams would be equally gullible if invited to a gentleman’s bedroom to “view his etchings”. Inquiring minds want to know.

  68. Justa Joe says:

    FYI; A Car alternator uses about 1 HP to produce 300 watts of power. The car in the picture looks like it only puts out about 5 HP to begin with.

  69. As I was reading this I suddenly had the brainwave that pedal cars for adults would be more reliable than wind ones and suitable for short distances. However after a quick search of the web I see that they are already big business.
    http://www.alibaba.com/showroom/pedal-cars-for-adults.html
    tonyb

  70. If we are looking at commuter cars that work and people might want to drive, have Renault made a good stab at it with the Twizy Electric vehicle?

    http://www.which.co.uk/cars/choosing-a-car/latest-first-drives/renault-twizy/

    Costs about £6500 plus £45 a month to rent the battery. Looks fun. No heater and doors are extra but IF electric vehicles are going to be mainstream and not a dead end perhaps this might evolve into something useful.
    tonyb

  71. prjindigo0 says:

    well… the turbulence would technically reduce wind drag some… vis. Mythbuster’s golf-ball-dimple car.

  72. Ed MacAulay says:

    The secret is in the detail:
    “When the car reaches 40mph, the blades spring into action and begin generating pollution-free power.”
    Probably it can only reach 40 on the down hill. Now if only they don’t run out of downhills. Watch for a big hill construction plan in China. When not in use, the car can be parked on the top of any hill that has 40 mph winds.

  73. mikemUK says:

    First they came for the birdies in the air, and I did nothing.
    Now, they’re coming for the rest of us!

  74. Darren Potter says:

    Via Great Wall vine – Gore, Hansen, Jones are eagerly awaiting, with taxpayer funds, the IPO of T-Z-ping Air Farm Autos.

  75. Luther Wu says:

    Yet another comic moment.
    I love WUWT- best comedy on the net.

  76. Ric Werme says:

    Erny72 says:
    May 16, 2012 at 10:36 am

    By jove I’ve got it!
    we need some cats, some toast and some jam.
    Everyone knows that a cat always lands on it’s feet, and everyone knows that if you drop toast after you spread jam on it it will fall jammy side down; so if we fasten the toast onto a cat’s back, jam side up, then we have a carbon neutral anti-gravity device.

    Hmm. This makes sense to me, at least enough sense to give it a try. My daughter’s cat is right here….

    … wait for toast, spread jam, tie to cat with string, go to bathroom for bandages …

    Umm, no. It appears thermodynamics wins again. I’m unable to attach toast to the back of the cat. I should have first tried the non-sticky plain toast as a control baseline, but I fear it would provoke the same repelling forces I encountered.

    I might try again, but I gotta find me a declawed cat, or at least trim the claws first.

  77. Bruce Cobb says:

    “”It works just like a windmill,” said Mr Tang, who claims the turbine gives his vehicle three times the battery life of other electric cars.”
    So, taking the same battery the other electric cars (which of course are normal-sized) use, his midget-size car gets 3 times the battery life. Well, duh. Of course it would. Once he scales it up in size, his magic windmill on the front isn’t going to increase the battery life one whit.

  78. Willis Eschenbach says:

    dscott says:
    May 16, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Well not so fast, perpetual motion machines aside, at least he is recapturing some energy from the wind turbulence just like one would do with regenerative braking. It is primarily regenerative braking that makes current electric hybrids more fuel efficient than conventional engines. The person who figures out how to cut wind resistance on vehicles by either reducing drag OR recovering some of the energy lost in drag is going to be a very rich person. Hilarity aside, he just might be on to something, just not the right something. Put the turbine in the back in the low pressure pocket (this is why NASCAR drivers draft team mates vehicles) and see what kind of energy recapture you get…

    dscott, no, he is not “recapturing some energy from the wind turbulence”, at least no net energy. There is absolutely no net gain from his scheme, whether he puts it in the back, the front, or the side. The loss in speed more than offsets the gain from the turbine.

    Let me pick some numbers to illustrate. Suppose it takes 40 watts of power to drive the car at 40 km per hour, and 60 watts to drive it at 50 km per hour.

    Suppose he gets up to 50 km/hr, and kicks in the fan. Perhaps he can draw 10 watts of power from it, but the extra drag from the fan slows the car down to 40 km/hr

    So now, he’s going 40 km/hr, he’s burning 60 watts of power, and he’s getting 10 watts back from the fan … which means it’s taking 50 watts of power to go 40 km/hr.

    But without the fan, it only took 40 watts of power to go 40 km/hr …

    So you don’t get to say “perpetual motion aside”, because the claim that he can get more power out of the fan than he is putting into the fan is indeed perpetual motion.

    You can stick a fan out of the window of a car and draw power from it, that part is true. But the inexorable Second Law of Thermodynamics says it will be a net loss, it will cost you more to in extra drag (and thus fuel consumption) than you can recover from the fan.

    I suppose you could just use the fan when you are coasting down a hill, and consider it a type of regenerative braking … but a hugely inefficient type of regenerative braking, you’d be much better off to just put regenerative brakes on the car. And hey, guess what, that’s what they do …

    w.

  79. Darren Potter says:

    Frederick Davies says – “This must be a joke; not even a journalist would fall for a Perpetual Motion Machine.”

    Are you so sure? Most “journalists” fell for Anthropological Global Warming, Bush memos (Rathergate), Obama’s birth certificate, and the Chevy Volt …

  80. wobble says:

    Holly Williams is an idiot.

  81. philincalifornia says:

    more soylent green! says:
    May 16, 2012 at 10:54 am
    Here’s what you do: Mount the fan so it blows air onto a sail mounted out front. Viola! Wind-powered car!

    To boost power, the wheels could wind the rubber band and the rubber band drives the engine.
    ======================

    The Mk II version could also have a sidecar with room for a donkey, and a carrot on a stick.

  82. Dan in California says:

    If he stowed the fan while driving, and erected it over the car when parked, eventually, the wind would recharge the battery. But that’s not what he’s claiming is it?

  83. Gunga Din says:

    Turn the blades around and put Al Gore at the wheel and it just might work ….

  84. J. Gary Fox says:

    Under direction of the US Department of Energy, General Motors has been instructed to purchase prototype and produce 3,000 vehicles which the government will purchase.

    Secretary Chu announced that the prototype fits in perfectly with investment in wind technology.

    “This is a game changer. Wind towers require wind, while Mr. Tang’s electric car generates its own wind when it reaches 40 mph.”

  85. TomT says:

    more soylent green! says:
    May 16, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Here’s what you do: Mount the fan so it blows air onto a sail mounted out front. Viola! Wind-powered car!

    To boost power, the wheels could wind the rubber band and the rubber band drives the engine.
    _______________________________________________________________________________There you go stealing my idea.

  86. TomT says:

    Interstellar Bill says:
    May 16, 2012 at 11:21 am

    The windmill has to be on top of the car, not in front of it, and be highly efficient.
    The windspeed has to be at least 20mph to have enough power density for a car, which has to have very low aero drag and wheel friction.
    ===========================================================================There you go too, stealing my idea, also.

  87. Alan Watt says:

    Luther Wu says:
    May 16, 2012 at 12:29 pm

    Yet another comic moment.
    I love WUWT- best comedy on the net.

    Seconded.

  88. JDN says:

    Power dissipated by body drag typically scales as the cube of the intake air speed (or worse). The fan would cause a relative drop in air speed over the body of the car because of power extracted by the fan. If you build a bad enough body for the car that produces a lot of drag, then you may pick up more power from the fan than would otherwise be dissipated over the body if the airspeed were higher. So, there may be a net gain from the fan under certain conditions, but not perpetual motion. For example, if you were trying to drive a flat surface down the road, it would make sense to put a fan/generator in front of the surface. The drag certainly won’t get any worse, and, you will get some of your power back. Speaking of that, how are Rossi’s fusion experiments going?

  89. RACookPE1978 says:

    No. One of the unknown-unknown problems of the early airplanes (before the effective wind tunnels of the mid and late thirties) was the “flat” front of the radial and rotary engines of WWI.

    That is, the propeller used the engine to pull air backwards (towards the flattened engine front) which opposed that airflow. Net effect? Smoothing the engine itself, trying to get smaller diameter engines, smoothing the corners of every part in the airflow (including rivets and exhaust pipes) and – most important – designing and re-designing the cowlings around the cylinder heads was a long and iterative process. Which failed many more times than it worked.

    First, streamline the car itself. Add regen braking. Once that is done – which WILL work – the “propeller” effectiveness on gas mileage will be shown for what it is. Negative.

  90. Alan Watt says:

    Rather than suffer all the conversion losses of Tang Zhenping’s contraption, you’d be much better off using the kinetic force of wind directly in a land yacht. I was quite surprised to find the world speed record for a wind powered vehicle is over 126 MPH (202 KPH). See here .

    Of course, you’re then at the mercy of the wind, and if we’d been satisfied with that we would have stayed with sailing ships.

  91. Kaboom says:

    Use a big enough fan and it will produce more power than the sun.

  92. Gail Combs says:

    May 16, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Gail Combs says: @ May 16, 2012 at 9:09 am
    ___________________________________
    Forget the spaghetti tree, I want money trees or a flock of golden geese or both to add to my farm.
    ==================================================
    Matthew W says: @ May 16, 2012 at 9:43 am
    Or a herd of those Unicorns that crap out gold bricks to pay for all silly “green investments”
    ____________________
    I have my herd of golden unicorns… well four mares, but no gold bricks. They leave stuff better used in a methane gas digesters.

  93. Gail Combs says:

    Willis Eschenbach says: @ May 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    ….. no, he is not “recapturing some energy from the wind turbulence”, at least no net energy….
    ____________________
    Willis you do not understand his secret. It is the same one that allowed my VW pick-up to get 50+ MPG. Here is a photo from inside the hood (bonnet)

  94. thelastdemocrat says:

    something to puzzle over.

  95. freezeframe says:

    California and New York just ordered 10000 each to show how high tech they are.

  96. oakgeo says:

    I remember the day a patent lawyer friend of mine (he is also an ex-engineer, so quite technically astute) told me that he had just received his first patent application for a perpetual motion machine. We celebrated with a beer or two.

    What really annoys me about the Sky News report is the complete lack of scientific/technical knowledge on the reporter’s part. I’m not surprised, just annoyed.

  97. DirkH says:

    thelastdemocrat says:
    May 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm
    “something to puzzle over.”

    In the beginning, the car is not moving. The movement of the treadmill drives its wheels, though. The propeller could just as well be replaced by a sail. The wind pushes the car forward.

  98. remmitt says:

    Could it be that the rotation of the fan, aside from powering a (small) generator, actually pushes air outward and as such reduces air pressure and thus air resistance of the vehicle behind the fan? Even if so, it would be hard to believe this would deliver more energy than the extra work that goes into moving air, turbulence effects, and conversion losses.

  99. DirkH says:

    thelastdemocrat says:
    May 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm
    “something to puzzle over.”

    Or looking at it from the reference frame of the moving “ground”:
    v1 = speed of the treadmill
    v2 = windspeed
    v1+v2 = windspeed relative to a point on the rubber band of the treadmill
    The relative speed of the car with regard to the rubber band is smaller than v1+v2; so that’s no impossibility.

  100. Ron House says:

    It isn’t clear that the car violates the laws of physics. Wind resistance is a (or the) major inefficiency in a moving car. If the fan, generator etc. act like a complicated way to reduce the net energy loss through drag, his efficiency might indeed go up. Though one can’t help but wonder whether a more streamlined shape to start with would do the job better with fewer parts to go wrong.

    PS: Willis’s explanation doesn’t convince me otherwise. “Suppose” this and that isn’t a physics argument. I think Willis is supposing that the net drag goes up by more than the power generated, but nothing here necessitates that. What law of physics says there can’t be some very odd and newsworthy ways to reduce drag?

  101. A. Scott says:

    This hobbyist’s toy is certainly not a realistic solution – as others have pointed out even IF it is generating a positive energy gain it would only be because of the aero inefficiency/drag of the prototype. An equal or greater gain could be accomplished by increasing the aero efficiency/reducing the drag of the vehicle.

    That said, as at least one other poster noted, there are situations where the idea could be beneficial. A perfect example would be delivery vehicles – with large “box” form factor. You really cannot streamline a box truck – it is most efficient at its task by being a large square box.

    In that case the drag is inherent in the large flat front. You can streamline the nose/cab slightly but its simply rounding the corners on the box – negligible overall gain.

    Now take the basic concept of the wind generator and apply to those box trucks. Forward facing fans would not increase the drag – a flat front is a flat front … in fact if properly done adding a ducted fan – with exit path for air – under, over or out the sides – and you’ve reduced the drag coefficient from the stock flat front. Plenty of room in the cab area to duct a fan or fans – you need room for driver is all.

    Couple a ram air venturi type duct before the fan that speed air up going to the fan, with proper aero tweeks at duct exits after fan – create low pressure at exits to help scavenge air out of exits. Ducted fans are considerably more efficient than open fans/props.

    I can see at least in theory a positive gain.

    Now add consider adding solar panels to roof, regenerative braking, and perhaps a KERS system (which stores braking energy in a rotating high speed flywheel) and you could see a small but real net energy gain.

    This does not speak to financial feasibility only to energy. If it was cost effective we’d see it in operation as these aren’t cutting edge ideas. But “cost effective” parameters often change rapidly.

    People need to come up with hair brained ideas for there to be meaningful real progress.

    For example years back who’da thought having a dead cylinder in an engine would be a good thing? Yet today engine management systems routinely kill a good share of the cylinders in an engine to achieve increased fuel economy.

    I don’t know if this ultimately would make sense – but I can certainly see applications where it MIGHT be feasible.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_energy_recovery_system
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regenerative_brake

    Ducted wind turbine idea:
    http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/21737/?mod=related

    F1 and Indy car racing – and aviation – engineers have become expert at aero – decreasing drag, increasing efficiency – but also making air flow do what they want … a good example is using exhaust gases to create low pressure areas to help air flow by creating low pressure areas …the Lockheed L1011 if I recall, while it has a 3rd engine in the rear – has it actually in tail of fuselage, not mounted in the vertical tail as with DC 10 – and fed by an “S” duct – in doing so they reduce drag and increase efficiency of vertical tail so it can be smaller (and fit in smaller hangars).

  102. ferd berple says:

    Hold on. A wind powered car can generate net positive energy using a fan without breaking any laws of physics, so long as the wind is blowing. The conventional example is a boat that uses a fan to drive a propeller to sail upwind. This has been known for 100+ years. What has only recently been shown is that a propeller can sail faster than the wind – downwind.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blackbird_(land_yacht)

  103. ferd berple says:

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm
    You can stick a fan out of the window of a car and draw power from it, that part is true. But the inexorable Second Law of Thermodynamics says it will be a net loss, it will cost you more to in extra drag (and thus fuel consumption) than you can recover from the fan.
    =============
    What you have failed to account for is that the air itself is moving. Only if the air is still does the 2nd law apply. However, if there is wind, you can capture the energy by applying force against the ground using wheels, or force against the water using a keel and rudder. One might think of it this way: In effect, what you are harnessing is the net difference in speed between the air and the ground, as the hot and cold side of your carnot engine.

  104. ferd berple says:

    ferd berple says:
    May 16, 2012 at 6:27 pm
    What has only recently been shown is that a propeller can sail faster than the wind – downwind.
    ===========
    In case this statement is confusing, the significant part is that the vehicle is going faster than the wind direct downwind. Sailboats can sail faster that the wind downwind, but they must tack to do this. Contentional sails cannot exceed windspeed DIRECT downwind.

  105. Donald Mitchell says:

    I am appalled by the lack of foresight by the naysayers. I suspect that I have at least as much knowledge and experience with the laws of thermodynamics as the majority of the commentators. I see this as one of the financial opportunities of a lifetime. All I need is some deep pocket investors to finance jumping through all of the hoops to bring it to fruition as an IPO as well as subsidize all of the legal hoops so that I can be properly licensed to handle the IPO. It appears reasonable to me that we already have a huge potential market starting off with Mr. Gore, Mr. Hansen, Mr. Jones and Mr. Mann et all. The prospect list would include everyone at the IPCC as well as reputable scientists at universities and government funded climate research around the world.

    I am sure that I my conscience would be able to rationalize any obscene financial rewards that I might receive as compensation for my contribution to the green revolution.

  106. Mike Wryley says:

    what, no righteous indignation from the Indian air powered car crowd ? Little farmer Tang’s car doesn’t even need a 3000 psi storage system, he’s a genius !

    It is actually saddening to see the stultifying stupidity of Ms. Williams reporting on a car powered by it’s own “wind”, because you are reminded once again that most of her contemporaries are equally as ignorant and uninformed regarding even the simplest of concepts, and yet supply “news” to the masses.

  107. DavidA says:

    It might even reduce drag in some circumstances. Depends on what it’s being compared to.

    Consider an air particle hitting the blade and pushing it laterally due to the angular incidence. The lateral force does not impede the vehicle’s forwards movement. A force that might have otherwise impeded the vehicle’s forward movement is used in an energy conversion towards the enclosed car-turbine system.

  108. Darren Potter says:

    thelastdemocrat – “something to puzzle over”

    Only puzzling to those who swallowed AGW.

  109. Tsk Tsk says:

    John T says:
    May 16, 2012 at 11:10 am

    “The problem of energy loss was solved long ago with regenerative braking, stand on most modern electric vehicles – Anthony”

    And if you don’t have modern electric vehicles? And how many modern electric vehicles can be built for £1,000?

    I agree this isn’t going to do much of anything to cut smog (the article was over the top). It wouldn’t win any design awards in this country. And I don’t see this design going into large-scale production. But I admire his spirit. We have modern electric vehicles (and a whole lot of other things) because of people like him. And its someone like him who knows we still haven’t solved the problem of energy loss, just reduced it some.
    ——————-
    To begin with he hasn’t created an electric vehicle that could be sold and driven on the roads legally in the West. I suspect if I wanted to make a homemade golf cart that didn’t meet safety standards I could do it for under $1500.

    Second, he hasn’t reduced energy loss at all. As others have pointed out any energy he extracts from the relative wind comes out directly as additional drag losses and given the less than perfect conversion of wind power to electricity and finally to mechanical work there must be a net loss in energy. Work (Energy) is Force x Distance. The fan experiences a force due to the relative motion of the air flow which does work on it creating electricity. Unfortunately, the car experiences at least the same force (maybe more if the fan housing further increases drag) and moves the same distance losing the same amount of energy. It is absolutely identical to using a battery to drive an electric motor connected to a generator used to charge the battery.

    Fred Berple pointed out that if there is additional wind relative to the ground then there is a source of energy that could be extracted. That’s true, but it’s really no different than putting a sail on the car and clearly not what the so called inventor is claiming.

    Others have suggested that he’s harvesting energy lost to turbulence around the vehicle. Let’s put aside the fact that his fan placement and configuration clearly do no such thing and assume he did configure them properly, say normal to the plane of the ground. OK, now he’s extracting energy from the turbulent layers around the vehicle and making the car more efficient. There’s only one problem. He can only extract a fraction of the energy going into the turbulence and turn it back into useful work. As a result he would have been better off designing a more aerodynamic shell resulting in lower drag and turbulence losses to begin with.

  110. Tsk Tsk says:

    A. Scott says:
    May 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    This hobbyist’s toy is certainly not a realistic solution – as others have pointed out even IF it is generating a positive energy gain it would only be because of the aero inefficiency/drag of the prototype. An equal or greater gain could be accomplished by increasing the aero efficiency/reducing the drag of the vehicle.

    That said, as at least one other poster noted, there are situations where the idea could be beneficial. A perfect example would be delivery vehicles – with large “box” form factor. You really cannot streamline a box truck – it is most efficient at its task by being a large square box.

    In that case the drag is inherent in the large flat front. You can streamline the nose/cab slightly but its simply rounding the corners on the box – negligible overall gain.

    Now take the basic concept of the wind generator and apply to those box trucks. Forward facing fans would not increase the drag – a flat front is a flat front … in fact if properly done adding a ducted fan – with exit path for air – under, over or out the sides – and you’ve reduced the drag coefficient from the stock flat front. Plenty of room in the cab area to duct a fan or fans – you need room for driver is all.
    ——————————–
    You started out mostly right except that he simply cannot be producing more energy than he’s using excepting berple’s ambient wind.

    The modifications you propose to the trucks would further increase drag as the airflow now has to do work against the fan itself and not just get out of the way, so to speak. Any improvement you would get out of such a system would be due to a net reduction in drag due to your ducting. I don’t need a fan to accomplish that. Basically, you’re violating the constraint that you can’t improve the aerodynamics of the trucks that you stated at the beginning.

  111. Tsk Tsk says:

    DavidA says:
    May 16, 2012 at 7:26 pm

    It might even reduce drag in some circumstances. Depends on what it’s being compared to.

    Consider an air particle hitting the blade and pushing it laterally due to the angular incidence. The lateral force does not impede the vehicle’s forwards movement. A force that might have otherwise impeded the vehicle’s forward movement is used in an energy conversion towards the enclosed car-turbine system.
    —————————————–
    Draw the vectors and the free body diagram of the flow and the fan blades. You’ll find that the drag force and the force acting on the fan blades is the same regardless of the angle of attack. Any energy you extract due to lift on the blades will show up as lost energy due to lift induced drag times the velocity of the air. If that weren’t the case then all aircraft would be perpetual motion machines once they got into the air. It takes energy to sustain flight.

  112. Jonathan Smith says:

    I have compiled a list of the names of the posters here who have given even the merest hint of thinking this crackpot ‘perpetual motion’ machine has any credibility. This means I can instantly dismiss any technical comments they might have regarding any other issues.
    Watching this ‘story’ I was eagerly waiting for the joke to be revealed. I suppose that a MSM media capable of falling for the cAGW scam is just as easily taken in by this nonsense; we should all be worried.
    Good grief!

  113. Robert Wille says:

    Crono141,

    Sorry but HOH generators are a load of crap. The 2nd law of thermodynamics guarantees you’ll get less energy from burning the HOH than you used to make it.

    Consider the fact that automakers invest billions of dollars in research to get modest improvements in fuel economy. If it were that easy to improve fuel efficiency, don’t you think these devices would be standard on every car?

  114. DavidA says:

    Repost

    …your physics is lacking, or understanding of this situation. The vehicle has to displace air particles in order to move forward, this is a given in all circumstances. The frontal area which impacts those particles need not increase with the addition of a turbine. It is sapping energy from its own main power source, but it is energy which was already consumed (transferred).

    Kinetic energy of the vehicle transferred to kinetic energy of the air particles in front of it. Usual.

    Kinetic energy of the vehicle transferred to kinetic energy of the air particles in front of it and kinetic energy within the turbine. This. (Note: no reference to quantity or perpetuation)

    It’s a complicated fluid dynamics scenario which only a wind tunnel or simulation would provide the exact answers for. Imagine a turbine shaped like a bowl with blades swept back. It would be aerodynamic and would still turn. (one problem is the double hit – they hit the blade first, then get through and still hit the vehicle)

    Actually in some scenarios they quite purposely create drag i.e. for conerning or to keep a high speed vehicle from taking off. What if a turbine was used to kill two birds with one stone in the latter scenario?

  115. Matt says:

    You can get an electrically powered paraglider :) Better than a flying car, too :)

  116. ferd berple says:

    Tsk Tsk says:
    May 16, 2012 at 8:32 pm
    Fred Berple pointed out that if there is additional wind relative to the ground then there is a source of energy that could be extracted. That’s true, but it’s really no different than putting a sail on the car and clearly not what the so called inventor is claiming.
    ==========
    It is quite possible the Chinese vehicle gets better battery life when driving into a headwind than if the fan was removed. Quite possible, even likely, so I wouldn’t laugh too hard. I doubt it is anywhere near as much as claimed, given what I see. But that is an engineering issue, not a theoretical obstacle.

    Something that sailors know, but may escape others, is that a good deal of the speed of a sailboat, certainly race boats, is due to what might appear to be perpetual motion. As the boat gains speed, the speed of the apparent wind increases the wind force over the sails, making the boat go faster, which increases the apparent wind which increases the wind force on the sails, making the boat go faster, etc, etc.

    Sailing craft use this to sail faster than the wind, which could to some appear to imply a violation of the 2nd law. However, in sailboats as the apparent wind speed increases, this brings the wind further onto the nose. Because sails are limited by their angle of attack, the boat must start to bear off the wind to keep increasing speed, until eventually the boat is sailing downwind and there is no further increase in apparent wind.

    The advantage of using a propeller in place of a sail is that the propeller does not have the same problem as sails regarding angle of attack. However, the propeller has many other problems that make it relatively unsuitable for use in boats, such as complexity, weight aloft, and safety. More than a few cruising sailors have sliced open their skulls after walking into their wind generators. The blades being all but invisible when turning at speed. Now imagine you had one big enough to drive a boat in storm conditions.

    My point was simply that a propeller mounted on a vehicle can with proper design extract net positive energy so long as the wind is blowing, and there is no perpetual motion involved. What is interesting (to me) is the recent solution to the problem of sailing faster than the wind direct downwind. The wind is blowing from behind, but you feel it on your face, you are going that fast. Many people will see this as violating the 2nd law, but it is simply good design.

  117. Alex Heyworth says:

    Actually, all he really needs is a couple of Senators instead of the reporter and he would be in business.

  118. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    I built a similar car last night. It has a small turbine in the front and a large fan blade on the rear.
    They are coupled via a drive shaft with a gear box in between. As the car moves forward, initially by battery power, the small fan turns the lage fan which pushes the car forward faster. Once it gets going the speed just keeps on increasing. You stop the car by putting the rear fan in reverse.

    I nearly got to the speed of light, but as I approached the acceleratioin seemed to slow. It was then that I realised time was dilating and I would not be able to go faster than light. Suddenly i thought if I get to the speed of light time would stand still and I would never be able to apply the brake so I quickly put the brake on and returned home.

  119. A. Scott says:

    Tsk Tsk says:
    May 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm
    You started out mostly right except that he simply cannot be producing more energy than he’s using excepting berple’s ambient wind.

    The modifications you propose to the trucks would further increase drag as the airflow now has to do work against the fan itself and not just get out of the way, so to speak. Any improvement you would get out of such a system would be due to a net reduction in drag due to your ducting. I don’t need a fan to accomplish that. Basically, you’re violating the constraint that you can’t improve the aerodynamics of the trucks that you stated at the beginning.

    A box delivery truck already has a finite fixed frontal area due to the “box” on the back. It is 96 – 102″ wide by appx 6′-14′ tall. Because they are dragging that box – that large flat frontal area – around behind them any aero improvements in the cab area have nominal effect. Therefore drag is largely a fixed number. You can not make it significantly more energy efficient.

    Thus a fan is no more impeding to airflow than the existing front of the truck. You can plaster fans all over the flat front and the truck would be for all practical purposes be little changed than the flat front without fans.

    To be efficient though a fan needs an exit for airflow. You could simply exhaust them into the engine bay and allow to make its way out the bottom. However it is better to put the air to work – make it go where you want it, and in some case perform a useful purpose at the same time.

    As I noted – modern race cars – Formula ` and IndyCar – are masters at that. using aero to “shape” air in many different ways – to direct air to or away from wings to increase or decrease their efficiency (some times you went less downforce in order to decrease drag, other times you need more).

    A good example are what are sometimes referred to as “wheel flips” – small bodywork in front of rear wheels. The rear wheels are exposed to the airflow – so have a large frontal area – AND create their own turbulence by their rotation. Wheel flips re-direct the air to assist in smoothing the turbulence around the wheels. Although they have a drag penalty by placing them in the airstream it is smaller than the drag saved by creating what you could visualize as an “air fairing” around the wheel.

    Fans can be and have been used in racing to enhance – greatly – the aerodynamics of the cars. In 1978 the Brabham BT46 “fan” car lasted exactly one race before being banned. IT used fans to help exhaust air from under the car making it highly more efficient. It was banned after a single race. The car had aero effects already – the use of the fan greatly enhanced their efficiency – which pokes a gaping hole in your comment that you could simply cut the holes/ducts for the fans in the current example and achieve the same gains with the fan drag.

    Prior to that – in 1970 Chaparral 2J CanAm car also employed fans to create increased aero efficiency. It was soon banned as well – with McClaren complained if it were not the CanAm series could be destroyed.

    These are not perfect examples but they do show the potential.

    A more real world example might be another racing aero “trick” …race cars have employed “ground effect’s” since the 70′s – where the underside of the car is shaped like an upside down wing – to both enhance and smooth airflow under the car, and to cause air to speed up – which causes low pressure area under the car – holding it to the track.

    Aside from the profile – the underbody wing shape – there are a couple restrictive issues. One, the air must be kept under the car and moving fast from front to rear – not allowed to leak out the sides. The other is to speed up the air you need an airfoil – a surface that is longer than the physical length – so the air can be sped up.

    Early designs had movable flexible “skirts” attached to the car that slid on the track effectively sealing the sides so air must stay under the car. These had many problems – drag, wear, catching on track imperfections and ripping side of car off etc. The car must have suspension travel to function so these could not be fixed height. They were deemed “moveable” aero devices as well, which had been banned for many years (ie: wings you could set flat on high speed sections to reduce drag – but would pop up on slow speed areas where the car needed the extra downforce.)

    When the “physical” skirts were outlawed the propeller heads and rocket scientists simply came up with a different way. They use fixed aero devices that directed airflow at the front edge of the bottom of each side of the car to create a “vortex” – a small rotating air mass. Those vortices created an air seal as they traveled along the bottom of the outside edge of the car between the road the bottom of the side of the car. Same basic effect as physical skirts without anything to break off.

    You have experienced a similar effect if you’ve walked thru a doorway and felt a blast of air – an “air curtain” – which uses high pressure air to create a barrier to keep inside air in and outside air out.

    Now the other issue – the underside “wing.” To create a “wing” shape under the car means the bottom is higher from track at front, then gets closer to track partway back and the gets further from track – like this:

    http://www.ddavid.com/formula1/images/lotus79b.jpg

    In doing so the air is restricted at the narrowest point – where bottom is closest to ground – if this air does not keep moving – and faster than the actual vehicle speed – the underbody does not work. One way racing engineers dealt with it is the wider “exits at rear of tunnels – creates lower pressure which tries to pull air toward rear. To improve that even more some teams exited their exhausts into these rear diffuser areas – this air was traveling fast and directed rearward and acted as “suction” helping keep air from packing up under car.

    Many of these technologies are making their way to commercial over the road trucks – which are horrible for aero efficiency.

    Examples here:

    http://www.solusinc.com/splitskirt.html

    Last I would point out that ducted fans have a high degree of efficiency – they also produce a high speed higher pressure “exit” airflow.

    Thinking outside the box – theoretically – it seems ducted fans could be used on commercial transport trucks in many ways. They spend most of their life running 60+mph. They are also extremely aero inefficient. It is very hard to icnrease drag. There are more and more methods to decrease drag by nominal amounts though

    I can – again at least in theory – see ducted fans on these vehicles that use the constant airflow for energy generation and then the exit air being used to cleanup airflows increasing aero efficiency and fuel mileage. For example feed high velocity ducted exit air under the trailer to clean up turbulent airflow. Or use that same exit air run past a vortex generator created an “air curtain vortex along the bottom sides of outer edge of trailer – an air version of the “skirts” shown above – air skirts would have 100% ground clearance while at same time helping keep air out from under trailer.

    I can easily see ducted fans providing enough power that alternators could be disengaged – saving fuel and increasing engine efficiency as well.

    Again – it may not be economically feasible but I think it is technically possible. I don’t think “goes 3 times farther” is anything but silly blather – but neither is the idea completely far fetched.

    Again – who woulda thought killing a number cylinders in your engine being a good thing.

    And how do you think that first guy, sitting around drinking beer with his buddy’s, who said “hey guys I gotta great idea – I’m going to build an invention that creates POWER when you put on yer brakes” got treated.

    I image he heard some of the same responses as we see in this thread ;-)

    In a little over 100 years we have gone front first aircraft flight to putting a man on the moon and much more.

    Where would we be if all the great (and often way out there) people who have dreamed all the new things we’ve seen in our short lifetimes had that same “why?” mentality. Instead of ‘why bother it’ll never work’ – they said ‘why the heck not – lets find a way to MAKE it work’ … seems we need more of the “why the heck not” folks these days.

  120. A. Scott says:

    @DavidA “(one problem is the double hit – they hit the blade first, then get through and still hit the vehicle)”

    Not necessarily – they can be ducted as I mentioned, with an exit path. Or you could do something as simple as angle the front face of the cab say 30% … then mount the fans vertical lets say 12″ in front of the truck below the windshield. This would allow air to hit front of truck both above and below the fan. This air would naturally flow upward along the face of the cab Air from below the fans would flow upward behind the fan while air hitting above the fan would do same getting an exit airflow established. As air passes thru and exits the fan it blends with air already moving in a vectored direction which helps air exit the fan

  121. A. Scott says:

    Box truck in wind tunnel ;-)

    http://wwwm.coventry.ac.uk/SiteCollectionImages/engineering%20and%20computing/Facilities/Wind-Tunnel.jpg

    I’ll note that I am not advocating any of this necessarily works, makes sense, or should be done … simply that people need to look for possibilities. Even hare-brained schemes and outright silliness can contain a kernel of usefulness.

    Tiny improvements in fuel economy in over the road transports can add up to large fuel savings.

    Using this “toy” as a catalyst – silly as it is … forget using it to power the vehicle … why couldn’t we look at using ram air systems to take over at speed for alternators, generators, hydraulics and the like? Seems at least conceivable that a direct drive fan or RAT style wind generator like aircraft use might be more efficient than a massive belt driven alternator powered off the engine? Is the drag from the prop against the efficiency of direct drive and the electronics, better than the very “lossy” and inefficient big ol’ v belt run off a $4.80 a gallon diesel motor also trying to haul 80,000 lbs down the road at 60mph?

    I don’t know – but would be pretty simple to find out ;-)

  122. Bill Tuttle says:

    Jenn Oates says:
    May 16, 2012 at 9:09 am
    Well, to be charitable, perhaps he plans to only travel downhill.
    :)

    Both ways, too…

  123. dave ward says:

    DickF says:
    May 16, 2012 at 8:39 am

    “Dave, it’s been done. Many modern aircraft are equipped with a Ram Air Turbine (“RAT”). The RAT is normally retracted in flight, but can be extended to produce emergency electrical power in the event of multiple generator or engine failures.”

    Sorry Dick, I should have used the sarc/ tag. I’m fully aware of RAT’s, but their use is only for emergencies, and the additional drag is probably the least of the worries a crew with a crippled plane will have.

  124. David L. says:

    I guess this would actually work if you were driving into a strong wind. But if there is no wind, and the fan is only spinning because of the forward momentum of the car pushing against the air, then the fan is going to do nothing but slow the car down that much faster.

  125. Uncle kevvy,yur fwend says:

    Nice hood ornament! Luvving the fins!! Where do you put the personal rice wine cooler? And he’s pickin’ up chicks, already? Where do I sign up? I want ThLee by the end of the week!!!!!

  126. Gail Combs says:

    A. Scott says:
    May 16, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    An equal or greater gain could be accomplished by increasing the aero efficiency/reducing the drag of the vehicle….

    A perfect example would be delivery vehicles – with large “box” form factor. You really cannot streamline a box truck – it is most efficient at its task by being a large square box.
    ___________________________________
    Of course you can stream line a box truck. It just depends on whether you wish to spend the money.

    Different options:
    http://www.32chrome.com/11212006International-Green2.jpg_preview.jpg
    http://aveawww.purplewuction.com/a/2008/20080207/8042.JPG
    http://trucksonly.com/advertisers/wingmaster/ILLUSTRA.JPG

    http://www.freightwing.com/common/images/semi_belly_fairing.jpg (Article: Freight Wing Belly Fairing

    http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/500/Truck_Aero_Mods.jpg
    http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/truckstop/faq/atdynamics_vid.jpg

    http://www.truckparts.org/images/truck_parts/air_wind_deflector.jpg
    http://www.purplewaveauction.com/i/a/2012/20120418midwest/A6149.JPG

    And the Ultimate design: http://www.smartbusinessdatabase.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/Air-Flow-Truck-Companys-Super-Truck4.jpg

  127. ferd berple says:

    Tsk Tsk says:
    If that weren’t the case then all aircraft would be perpetual motion machines once they got into the air. It takes energy to sustain flight.
    =============
    Just such an aircraft can be built. Connect an airplane to a car through a tether, and fly the plane like a kite. The propellers on the plane extract energy from the air and convert it to electricity which is conducted down the tether. This electricity powers the wheels on the car which is how the whole contraption moves. So long as the wind continues to blow the plane will stay in the air providing energy to drive the car around. Perpetual motion, extracting energy from the wind.

    The secret is to recognize that a windmill cannot turn the blades if the windmill is blowing along with the wind. You need a cold side to the engine (the ground) to offset the hot side (the wind). Thus, once you tether the windmill to the ground, you can extract energy to do work. This energy can then be used to move the windmill.

  128. ferd berple says:

    A. Scott says:
    May 17, 2012 at 1:33 am
    Where would we be if all the great (and often way out there) people who have dreamed all the new things we’ve seen in our short lifetimes had that same “why?” mentality. Instead of ‘why bother it’ll never work’ – they said ‘why the heck not – lets find a way to MAKE it work’ … seems we need more of the “why the heck not” folks these days.
    ===============
    Some of those people might even believe that it would be better to invent our way out of climate change than to tax our way out. However, we continue to elect lawyers as politician to run the country, while the Chinese continue to appoint engineers.

    To my way of thinking, the current politicians we have in the west believe in Perpetual Motion. All we need to do is raise taxes and we will all have enough money to be wealthy, If we raise them even higher, there will be enough money to give each citizen a million dollars. Once everyone is a millionaire, they will be able to afford even higher taxes, which will allow us to give them even more money, and allow them to pay even higher taxes, etc, etc.

    Once taxes are high enough there will be enough to let each of us be billionaires. German showed the way in the 1930′s, when they implemented “quantitative easing” to pay their debts.

  129. Rolf says:

    These cars would make much better speed with mast and sails.

    The reporter of course got the salary, a trip to china paid ? why not put some effort in it ?

  130. wobble says:

    A. Scott says:
    May 17, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Thus a fan is no more impeding to airflow than the existing front of the truck. You can plaster fans all over the flat front and the truck would be for all practical purposes be little changed than the flat front without fans.

    To be efficient though a fan needs an exit for airflow. You could simply exhaust them into the engine bay and allow to make its way out the bottom. However it is better to put the air to work – make it go where you want it, and in some case perform a useful purpose at the same time.

    No, no, no, no, no, no, no.

    If you are ducting air through the vehicle then you should restrict the airflow using a fan. The increased drag from the fan will more than offset any energy generated.

    In your example, you reduced the drag of the truck by exhausting air through the vehicle and then you increased the drag by putting fans on your new vents.

    Honestly, I’m disgusted by all the ignorance on this thread.

    There’s no way that this device is generating more energy than the increased drag it’s creating. Period.

  131. Justa Joe says:

    A. Scott says:
    May 17, 2012 at 2:24 am

    … forget using it to power the vehicle … why couldn’t we look at using ram air systems to take over at speed for alternators, generators, hydraulics and the like? Seems at least conceivable that a direct drive fan or RAT style wind generator like aircraft use might be more efficient than a massive belt driven alternator powered off the engine?
    ——————————————–

    Of course, with your idea the truck will still have to carry around the big double V-belt truck alternator that does the real work as well as all of additional Turbines and such that you want to hang off the front of the vehicle, which theoretically may provide some marginally better efficiency in electrical generation given just the right set of circumstances and road speed.

    A car’s alternator can have a parasitic draw by as mush as 4.5 HP under certain circumstances. Of course, typical draw is probably around 1 – 1.5 HP. I’ve got to imagine a big semi-tractor trailer truck pulling a “reefer” and all those lights, etc is using a lot more juice than a car. The nearest I can tell you want to replace the X HP that would run the alternator with X HP of additional aero drag and weight. BTW ducting creates drag too.

    I’d be fascinated to know how much ‘turbine’ surface area (size) would be required for a truck going, for example, 55 MPH to displace the, for example, 5HP worth of alternator output. My guess would be more than most would expect.

  132. Gary Hladik says:

    Gail Combs says ( May 16, 2012 at 9:09 am): “Forget the spaghetti tree, I want money trees or a flock of golden geese or both to add to my farm.”

    Get a law passed making leaves legal tender. Voila! Money trees!

    Watch the first 30 seconds:

  133. wobble says:

    thelastdemocrat says:
    May 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    something to puzzle over.

    It’s not puzzling at all. The propeller enjoys increased efficiency because it’s turning in a still airmass.

    There’s no way for a device like this to move forward on its own apparent wind.

    And has been stated above, this is no different that a device extracting some energy from a tailwind and using that extra energy to travel faster than the tailwind itself – something which has been done by sailors for hundreds years.

  134. Crono141 says:

    What if, before the turbine, we ran the airflow into a funnel and across the radiator first, then into a fan turbine? The extra enthalpy of the hot air vs the cold air+compressor is basically what a jet engine does. In this case, the energy recovered doesn’t come from the wind (but we need the wind to get it), but from the excess heat of the engine.

  135. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” tadchem says:

    May 16, 2012 at 8:22 am

    What we *really* need is a machine that converts wind power into crude oil. “””””

    Not really; it should convert directly from wind, to 87 octane gasoline/benzine/petrol.

  136. George E. Smith; says:

    “”””” Crono141 says:

    May 17, 2012 at 10:45 am

    What if, before the turbine, we ran the airflow into a funnel and across the radiator first, then into a fan turbine? The extra enthalpy of the hot air vs the cold air+compressor is basically what a jet engine does. In this case, the energy recovered doesn’t come from the wind (but we need the wind to get it), but from the excess heat of the engine. “””””

    Under one wing of every Supermarine Spitfire ever built, from the prototype to the last production model, there was a Meredith Radiator, invented naturally by a guy named Meredith. I believe at the RAR; the Royal Aircraft Establishment circa 1933) It ran the cooling fluid from the RR Merlin/Griffon engine through a “radiator” heat exchanger to heat the incoming airflow from the input duct, and allow it to expand in the exit duct, to provide a net thrust that exceeds the drag of the radiator, so the cooling radiator provided net forward thrust; it literally was the first jet engine.

    Later on, the designers of the P-51 Mustang put as similar contraption under the belly of that plane to do the same thing, that the Spitfire had six years earlier. The advantage of the P 51 design was that it was easier to shoot yourself down on a straffing run, by kicking up stones off the ground into your radiator.

  137. A. Scott says:

    @Gail Combs: Plenty of ways to round the corners of a big box and chip away at the drag but the coefficient of drag is still largely that of what it is – a big old box. Don’t get me wrong – there is a lot of new interesting technology – note I posted some of what you did – and that even a few percent gain in fuel economy can be a BIG savings with over the road transport.

    Things like under-trailer side skirts have a feasible cost-benefit ratio, and thus you see on many trucks these days – but many/most of the aero improvements are not (yet) economically feasible – or we would see them on every truck.

    I suspect the same would be true of a design that uses alternative ideas like using ram air turbines or ducted fans and the like would be similar … they COULD be done, and may have some benefit, but the costs would make them unfeasible at present.

    We could easily add regenerative braking to semi’s – they already use engine compression to assist when needed – but it must not be cost effective or would be in use. At some point that too will change as fuel costs increase someone will try it and then refine it until its cost effective.

    Same with solar – a semi trailer would seem a perfect candidate for solar – large flat roof exposed to sun all the time … could generate electricity when moving OR stationary. Seems a no brainer. But at end of day the costs simply outweigh by the benefits. At some point solar panel cost (and I’m sure durability is an issue) will get low enough to make it feasible.

    That’s all I propose – that it could be possible, with all the dirty air flows and high drag areas – to incorporate a ducted fan or RAT system – to replace or supplement some of the existing functions.

    Part of that idea could be using the ducted fans to “shape” airflow in such a way that it provides addtl aero efficiencies … as I noted simply creating a proper vortex along the sides and bottom of the trailers could save considerable fuel – could do much the same task as the say the under-body skirts.

    I noted that it seemed at least possible that when you add these “co-product” [that oughta light off a firestorm ;-) .. ] benefits along with efficiencies of the technology over things like engine driven pumps etc that there may well be a net gain/improvement/benefit. I also was clear that any such benefit could easily be offset by costs making it impractical.

    BTW – THESE are the ultimate designs ;-) ….

    http://www.photo.machinestogo.net/main.php?g2_view=core.DownloadItem&g2_itemId=55&g2_serialNumber=6

    http://img514.imageshack.us/img514/7355/colani2005ama4.jpg

  138. JustJack says:

    Erny72 says:
    May 16, 2012 at 10:28 am

    “Racing cars are able to benefit from a tow when closely following another car because the leading car does the hard work of shoving the ambient air out of the way, meaning the following car has less drag to overcome.”

    The whole train has less drag to overcome and the whole train is thus able to go faster than any car alone. Length to width ratio of displacement boat hulls favors longer narrower hulls. A car body is essentially a displacement hull (although on wet roads with the wrong tires it may become a planing hull LOL). Drafting by one or more cars, provided the gaps are small enough, effectively turns a number of short hulls into one long hull and this reduces the overall drag for the whole line. In the case of just two cars the lead car alone would have a low pressure zone to the rear of it slowing it down. A drafting car behind it eliminates the low pressure zone behind the lead car and the second car now has the low pressure zone behind it. But since hull length to width ratio is improved they both go faster than either car could alone. This is one reason why teammates draft each other – both benefit from it equally. There are other reasons. It’s easy for one or the other car in an uncooperative draft to mess up the other one. Too small a gap may reduce down pressure so much on the lead car rear tires he spins out into an outer lane and falls behind. Too small a gap may also deprive the second car of cooling air resulting in a blown engine. Yet another reason is that cars can be designed to be good or poor as draft-mates and if you’re on the same team the cars can be designed work very well together.

  139. JustJack says:

    A. Scott says:
    May 17, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    “We could easily add regenerative braking to semi’s – they already use engine compression to assist when needed – but it must not be cost effective or would be in use. At some point that too will change as fuel costs increase someone will try it and then refine it until its cost effective.”

    Ever seen one of those cheap model planes where you spin the prop to wind up a rubber band and when you let it go the prop spins as the rubber band unwinds? Presumably you could make a driveshaft for a vehicle such that braking winds it up and when you release the brake it unwinds. This seems like it should be cost effective although probably limited to normal braking on a level surface. In electric vehicle regenerative braking you can keep on recovering energy until the batteries can’t hold no mo such as on the downside of a long hill. With a little extra hardware you might harness the braking energy to produce compressed air and store a lot more energy that way but probably with much higher parasitic losses so might not be be cost effective.

  140. Chris Smith says:

    It works if you want to reverse.

  141. Merovign says:

    And now you know why I think poll-driven politics is such a bad idea.

  142. Jesrad says:

    Just chipping in…

    A wind turbine on a car is no sillier than a wind turbine on a boat, and those have existed for some time now. Most wind turbine boats (windmill boats: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windmill_ship ) can powersail straight into the wind, that’s their one big advantage over more conventional sails that only let boats sail 30-40 degrees into the wind, or windsails that can push the enveope into the 15-20 degrees territory. With rearwind, though, the wind turbine boats have less performance.

  143. wobble says:

    Jesrad says:
    May 18, 2012 at 5:36 am
    Just chipping in…

    A wind turbine on a car is no sillier than a wind turbine on a boat, and those have existed for some time now.

    ANY attempt to use a wind turbine for apparent wind is SILLY!

    There’s a big difference between capturing natural wind and apparent wind. One is silly and the other isn’t. Please acknowledge this.

  144. Scott Covert says:

    Ugh, this is so bad I can’t believe all the people saying this might work. You are oversimplifying the drag issue. The blades are moving faster (angular velocity) than the car, therefore more drag. The fan adds drag over a flat nose. Also the air leaving the blades either hits the front of the car or other surfaces causing somewhat less drag since it hits the car with less velocity. The air from the blades that does not hit the car is heated by compression from the impact with the blades and turbulance. That heat energy is lost. Even with a 100% efficent generator, you lose energy! Throw in the generation losses and storage/ transmission losses the net energy loss is huge!
    His claim of triple net gains over simple battery power is a bold faced lie.

    It’s a scam, plain and simple. The reporter swallowed it hook line, sinker, rod, reel and half the dude’s arm.

  145. DavidA says:

    Sorry late reply, no internet. Did a (simple!) thought experiment in my head which lays to waste any claims that laws of physics are being violated:

    1. Get Mr Tang to drive his car down a straight highway with his turbine on starting with a fully charged battery. Record the distance attained.

    2. Repeat above under the same conditions but this time disconnect the wire which charges the battery.

    If he went further in the first test then we’ve proven the vehicle’s own drag i.e. work performed against the air, can be harnessed to direct energy back into vehicle without breaking any physical laws.

    If follows that a variation to an existing profile can do the same. In the eyes of physics turbine blades and normal grills/bonnets are all just arbitrary surfaces, same laws apply.

  146. skeptical citizen says:

    There is no such thing a Free or something for nothing.

  147. Spector says:

    Would you believe — a wind-powered iPhone? Maybe not.

  148. wobble says:

    DavidA says:
    May 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    If he went further in the first test then we’ve proven the vehicle’s own drag i.e. work performed against the air, can be harnessed to direct energy back into vehicle without breaking any physical laws

    The vehicle would absolutely travel further with the wire disconnected.

    Connecting the wire will increase drag. The energy lost from the increased drag will be greater than the electrical energy generated by the turbine. Period.

  149. DavidA says:

    Connecting the wire will increase drag.

    Flow of an induced current within the vehicle will increase wind drag? Are you sure?

  150. wobble says:

    DavidA says:
    May 19, 2012 at 7:51 pm
    Connecting the wire will increase drag.

    Flow of an induced current within the vehicle will increase wind drag? Are you sure?

    Are you kidding? Absolutely. It’s basic electromechanical energy conversion. Do you need it explained to you?

    You do realize that more energy is required to turn a generator as the electrical load on the generator is increased, right? Or, did you think that the electrical energy generated was “free”?

  151. wobble says:

    Flow of an induced current within the vehicle will increase wind drag? Are you sure?

    Btw, it’s not the “[f]low of an induced current” that’s the problem. Generating the electricity is the problem. The greater the electrical load, the greater the CEMF (counter-electromotive force) within the generator, the greater the torque that’s required to turn the turbine against that greater CEMF, the greater the drag created by the blades of the turbine.

    CEMF is the electromagnetic force that’s created within the copper windings when electrical energy is generated. The greater the electrical load, the greater the energy that needs to be generated to handle the load, the greater the CEMF, the greater the torque required to overcome the CEMF, the greater the drag.

    Obviously, the electrical load is zero with the wire disconnected. This means that the drag caused by the turbine has been minimized.

    Now, you might ask why the drag increases when the torque required to turn the turbine increases. Well, here’s a thought experiment for you. Hold three fans outside your car window. The first fan has it’s blades locked in place. The blades of the second fan are lubed and turn freely. The blades of the third fan aren’t locked but are difficult to turn. Now, how much drag is created by each fan?

    Are you starting to understand?

  152. George E. Smith; says:

    A couple of weeks back, I did an extensive wind drag experiment. I drove my 2010 2.5 litre Subaru Legacy from Sunnyvale CA, to Glendale CA, a distance of 350 miles. This car is rated for 27 or so round town MPG, and 31 highway. I set my cruise control at 62, and left it there, only accelerating past that speed, while passing slower vehicles, so as to not be too long in the passing lane on hiway 5…..As I pulled into my BIL’s driveway in Glendale, my average MPG gage read 41.1 MPG for the 350 miles going over the grapevine, and everything. I did slow to 55 mph on the first uphill climb on the grapevine. While running downhill, essentially free wheeling, the instantaneous MPG reading pegged at 99.9 MPG, and the car may have reached 65 MPH.

    On the return trip the next day, I started to make some experimental changes. I set the same 62 MPH cruise speed, but now on slight uphill stretches, I kicked the speed down in steps trying to keep the instantaneous MPG needle from going negative; but not going below 50 MPH, which forced some lane restrictions. On the long downhills, where the meter pegged at 99.9, I kicked the speed up, sometimes to 70 to bring the MPG needle off the 99.9 peg, but always well above the starting 41.1 average at the start of return. This didn’t maximize my MPG number, but it did help maintain a higher average trip speed, to compensate a bit for the slowdowns.
    When I got back down the grape vine, onto the laser levelled CA central valley, then it was back to the 62 and stay in the slow lane, till I needed to pass. I discovered, that as I approached the tail of slower moving semi-trucks, at distances of as much as 3-4 truck lengths, my MPG instantaneous needle starting drifting into more positive territory, and significantly so, when I was within one truck length (100 feet or so). But of course the truck was slower than I was, so I had to pass him.
    Well occasionally, some trucks came up on my tail going faster than I was, and I didn’t need to look in the rear vision mirror to see that, the MPG needle started to climb when they were about 4 truck lengths behind me, and kept climbing as the reached and eventually passed me. So the truck was pushing a decent tailwind lift ahead of it, that helped me. Once the truck passed me and puuled in front of me, I kicked my crtuise setting up a few clicks, till I matched his speed, usually about 65 MPH, but sometimes higher. So I sat there holding my trailing distance between one and two truck lengths gap, and matching the truck’s speed. So I was able to now travel at 65 and above, while using less gas than when alone at 62.
    Now there was a substantial headwind, all the way to San Jose, but there had not been any tail wind, or any wind at all on the gosouth trip.

    So I wasn’t able to keep my 41.1 MPG record, because of the big head wind; but I did arrive home still with 39.9 MPG on the meter. On my best drag of the trip, I got a 100 mile ride from one truck at about 67 MPH, and during that tow, my MPG was up by 5 MPG over the truckless condition, and my speed was also 5 MPH better.

    I didn’t get too cocky and find out how much drag I could get being nose to tail, but the one truck length gap was quite comfortable to hold, and since I was tuning the speed to hold than gap and speed, I was pretyy attentive; but the gain at two truck lengths was still very healthy.

Comments are closed.