British engineer Richard Jenkins has been cooking up wind-powered vehicles for over a decade. While wind vehicles, in all honesty, will likely never reach the commercial market, his efforts provide much needed attention to the wind power industry.
After 4 previous designs, Mr. Jenkins created the Greenbird Car, a radical example of green automotive design, if a bit lacking in practicality. The car is built almost entirely out of light-weight carbon fibers, but due to its large size weighs just over 600 kg. The new car zips along the ground much like a sailboat, though it uses a single solid wing, rather than a sail, to catch the wind.
The car produces a significant amount of lift when traveling at high speeds. To counter this Mr. Jenkins added small wings which “stick” the car to the ground, similar to those used on Formula 1 racers. He describes, “Greenbird weighs 600kg when it's standing still. But at speed, the effect of the wings make her weigh just over a tonne.”
On a windy day on the dry plains of Ivanpah Lake in Nevada, Mr. Jenkins took the Greenbird Car up to 126.1 mph (202.9km/h), setting an international speed record. The new record easily surpasses the previous mark of 116 mph set by American Bob Schumacher in 1999, with his Iron Duck vehicle.
What’s next for the world’s new fastest (wind-powered) man? Mr. Jenkins states, “Now that we've broken the record, I'm going back on to the ice craft. There's still some debate as to whether traveling on ice or land will be faster.”
written by Fred, July 27, 2009
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