By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Design
Tang Zhengping uses a large fan to help recharge the car's electric batteries, boosting its range to nearly 90 miles.
Tang Zhengping wanted to drive a wind-powered car. So he went ahead and built one.
It took three months to design, manufacture and build, but now the 55-year-old farmer from Beijing’s Tangzhou Wangji Yongle Town has a one-of-a-kind electric one seater, which he claims has a maximum range of nearly 90 miles.
His creation, roughly the size of a box-car, is powered by batteries and two sets of electric generators. A large fan installed in the front and a pair of solar panels in the back help supply power by charging either the battery or generator, depending on which isn't being used at the time, he explains.
Altogether, the project cost Zhengping the Chinese equivalent of around 1,600 dollars.
With the automotive industry focusing on more practical, road-ready alternatives such as electric cars and hydrogen fuel cells, research into wind-powered vehicles rarely gets any press, which is kind of a shame. Previous concepts, such as the Greenbird, have shown promise by setting the world speed record with a top speed of 126.4 mph during run that was aided by 30 mph winds.
And what Zhengping's invention demonstrates is that wind-power technology can, at the very least, be harnessed as a supplementary source of renewable power. For instance, it can potentially be integrated into future cars similar to how body solar panels or re-generative brakes are used to help recharge electric and hybrid cars.
But heck, who needs car companies when you can build it yourself -- at least if you live out on a farm in rural China where the definition of street legal is probably a lot more laxed.
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Apr 25, 2012
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Since the Chinese government subsidizes the cost of gasoline, there is no market for electric cars in China..
I see many self proclaimed genius engineers on here that really don't have a clue. First of all a household AC fan does not or will not produce electricity. It is the wrong kind of motor. It must be a permanent magnet dc motor/ generator. This is the same principles used in wind generators at any size. It may be a pathetic attempt at perpetual motion but any electrical current input created could help, unless the drag coefficient is higher than the energy used to produce the current. It is possible for the wind to flow thru the fan more effectively than around a solid body. It may not be this fan, but it is possible. It would need to be tested in a wind tunnel. People thought they were dumb for inventing the horseless carriage. People thought it was a dumb idea for laptop makers to develop keyboards that produced electricity with every keystroke. People though it was dumb to make regenerative brakes. People thought it was dumb to put solar panels on anything. All are widely used. Like the author states it may contribute to other small energy creative devices such a regenerative brakes and solar body panels. If nothing else the batteries could charge by the wind when the car is parked. All I am saying is that unless you have a engineering degree in aerodynamics and electrical engineering you probably shouldn't be judging anyone for trying a theory. There are PMA (Permanent Magnet Alternators) that start producing 12vdc at 150rpm, and 100vdc at 1000rpm. I would have to see the drag coefficient numbers, and other specs before I would ever make a decision. I give the guy credit more than I do the nay sayers. If you think this guy's idea is goofy, you should check this page out. This IS a windmill mounted on a car. The wheels turn the prop, which turns the vehicle???s wheels, which turn the prop, which turns the vehicle???s wheels. What happens is the prop thrust pushes the vehicle. It works and has world-renowned physicists throwing their Nobel Prizes in fits of rage because it is defying physics. http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/06/downwind-faster-than-the-wind/
Wow, cannot believe some of the smug and condescending comments here, do you believe every inventor got their idea right without a few missteps along the way. You would have had a field day with Archimedes and Tesla.
Like the crazy ideas for generating energy you see in YouTube videos. China is going through their own phase of ignorant, (er, sorry) NAIVE, fascination with technology; and this is one of the signs. Along with other crazy ideas to "save" energy, such as lane-bridging super buses, and elevated high-rail bicycle routes -- "solutions" that would produce many more problems than any they might solve. Face it, China's rapid rise is not that much based on an actual understanding of technology (yet), but on frank theft of advanced designs the West have developed for ourselves. There is a LOT of UNDERSTANDING that is missing from such speculative energy projects as this -- not to mention the relevant physics education. Putting a household-quality fan on the front of a car is one of those crazy ideas. Granted, it WOULD increase your range IF it ran while the car was PARKED, but if the car has to make it's OWN "wind" in order to turn the fan, then the efficiency of the various energy conversions limits that role. Battery powers car's motion, Car's motion creates "wind" that powers the fan, Small portion of fan's power is fed back to the batteries. Every energy transition here loses energy in conversion. Ultimately, the guy could get better results from simply streamlining the vehicle, as that would eliminate the NEED for any backing and filling of energy production, and would also eliminate the ugly wind-breasting fan on the front.
How many people go build a vehicle and then actually get to drive it? May not be an industrial design nominee, but at least he's trying. Great job. Credibility? It's a back yard, do it yourself project. Fins? The fins on this vehicle trouble all you "car" guys? Give me a break, and go look at some of the late 1950s and early 1960s designs from our own manufacturers. Even Inspector Clouseau created a finned legend, the famed "Silver Hornet". Lighten up a little, and then go develop and build a car that can might one day wean us off fossil fuels and save the planet at the same time. This guy's car may not be the one that achieves those kinds of results, but it looks like he's enjoying his drive anyway. Way to go.
If he'd only let the fan run while he was driving, he wouldn't need the wind at all. And I bet the tail-fins really boost his economy, and enhance high-speed stability on dirt roads. But what Zhengpings invention really demonstrates is that there are suckers born every minute, and the "green" mania desperately needs them to keep going.
Sticking a household fan in front of a car and waiting for the wind to blow is not going to provide any real boost to the batteries. In fact, the drag caused by the fan when the car is moving will probably cause it to be a net drain on the batteries. Look at it this way. When used as a generator, the fan can only produce about as much power as it draws from the wall when used as a fan. How much power does the fan use when plugged into a wall? Not much. If you diverted the power to used run the fan to instead charging the batteries in the car then it would take days if not weeks to charge them up. Yet how often does the wind blow hard enough to move the fan blades as fast as when it is plugged into the wall? This is a stunt, or at most a misguided effort by the farmer.
I do have an engineering degree, though it's not in aerodynamics. But it's probably more than the farmer has. BTW, I grew up on a farm, and I know lots of farmers tinker and have hobbies like this. As for the fan, I always assumed the charging current was generated when the car was parked and the wind blowing (reread my original post). I did not assume the farmer believed in perpetual motion. But while the car was moving, the fan would still be a significant drag, to the point where it could be a net minus even if it did charge the batteries up a bit when it was parked. As for whether the fan has a generator motor or is a standard wall fan, it doesn't matter. The energy output and efficiency of a fan (or windmill) is limited by its aerodynamics and size. How fast it can spin when pushed by the wind is about as fast as it can spin if it was driven by a motor plugged into a wall. Therefore the energy the fan can generate can't be much more (and is probably less than) what it would draw if driven by an AC motor and spinning at the same rate.
I can't blame the farmer for trying charge his car up with a fan acting as a windmill. But once he did it, he needed to show that the fan was actually helping to charge the battery. All I'm saying is that there's plenty of reason to believe that if the farmer had measured the fan's output, he would have found it made little difference. There would have been no reason for him to do a video touting his fan. I don't blame him for not knowing aerodynamics, just not finishing the experiment. And I do blame SmartPlanet and Mr. Nguyen for not knowing basic physics. They at least should know better. Posting something like this brings down the quality of the site.
Good for him. What we mock is that a web site called "SmartPlanet" that supposedly dishes up green high-tech would fall for this. It doesn't help to dispel the "junk science" rep they've engendered. Had this been posted on the 1st, we might be more forgiving.
He's a farmer, not a scientist. He just doesn't get it. But hey, we have plenty of people here in the USA that believe in "over unity", like powering your car with water.
This is China's version of the balloon boy's father! As in that case, the only question that remains is whether this poor guy actually thinks he has a genuine innovation, or he really started out to pull a fast one all along. Did I see a wry smile at one point in the video? Was he laughing to himself that he'd spoofed everyone? The rocket car fins on the back are a nice added touch, too! They must really chatter in his rural village when he drives by! Smartplanet, you're better than this!
Too bad we don't know what he's saying but I never saw the fan spin on it's own, even while driving. Even if it did there would be a net loss from the extra drag. On top of that the car looked like it was heavy and the airplane fins in the back made him loose even more credibility in my eyes. Do say kudos to him for building an electric car as he is in a small group with that much ambition.
Listen guys, I can't vouch for just how effective Zhengping's invention is at harnessing energy from the wind. I'm also not saying car companies should start installing house fans in the grill of cars to re-charge the battery. I'm just pointing out that wind power tech is another method of harvesting energy that can supplement EVs or other conventional vehicles if they can figure out a really efficient way to integrate it. There's even been some research with this method. Like the Wind Explorer concept car uses a turbine to recharge the battery at a maximum rate of 20 percent. Not great, but still worth looking into, I think. http://www.digitaltrends.com/lifestyle/wind-powered-car-sets-records-in-a-3100-mile-road-test/
...exactly how many people park their cars in exposed places with enough wind to make this even theoretically viable? Perhaps if you live in the high desert or by the ocean it might work. No more keeping your car in a garage, though.