There’s no doubt about it, the race to develop alternatively powered vehicles is in full swing. This means that everyone from researchers to backyard mechanics are throwing their hats into the ring to make things happen. Manufacturers have scaled down the size of their engines by going with smaller displacement mills equipped with tiny turbos. Then there are the electric and extended range vehicles that are beginning to pop-up all over the place. Innovation and creativity are taking over, which means some people are really starting to think outside the box. Take Dirk Gion and Stefan Simmerer, a TV Host and an Engineer from Germany who have just successfully piloted a two man wind powered vehicle across the continent of Australia.
Called the Wind Explorer, this tiny four wheeled car was able to traverse Australia by using wind power to recharge its 8 kWh lithium-ion battery pack by using a portable wind turbine. It’s actually quite ingenious really, in the evening the turbine would be set up using a 20-ft telescopic bamboo mast and rotating fan blades to recharge the batteries. When the batteries were depleted the team then resorted to using a kite, similar to the ones used by kite surfers. This kite was able to harness the wind and propel them to speeds of up to 50 mph.
The journey took 18-days and covered 3,107 miles all for the cost of around $15.00 worth of electricity. Now sure the vehicle only weighed 441 lbs, and the guys did have a support team, but that doesn’t change the fact that what they accomplished was pretty remarkable.