5 Most Incredible Wind Powered Vehicles

As fossil fuels run out, we must turn to the abundant natural resources that mother nature gives up so freely. Wind power is a prime example.

greenbird2Photo: greenbird

It is good to know that alternative ‘green’ sources of energy are being given top priority in some parts of the world. The Greenbird is both a land and ice craft, powered only by the wind. With 126.2 mph, the Greenbird set a new world land speed record for wind-powered vehicles on March 26, 2009. The team hopes to both better that new record and continue to work toward breaking the ice record in the winter of 2010/11.

The project is a partnership between UK’s first and largest independent green electricity company, Ecotricity, and engineer Richard Jenkins. The team is all British, independent, visionary, passionate and utterly committed to envisioning a zero-carbon transportation future.

greenbirdPhoto: greenbird

Of course, setting records does not solve problems of fuel used in moving people and goods, but progress in these areas is being made. American company Wind+Wing Technologies announced plans to build the first winged and wind-assisted ferry vessel for public use in the San Francisco Bay Area. The vessel would make use of the naturally windy conditions in the Bay Area, together with an innovative wing design and clean diesel motors to power and maneuver the vessel. Fuel savings could be up to 40% using this green technology, compared to current costs.

A German project and heavy-lift cargo vessel operator – The Beluga Group – uses what is called a “towing kite” system aboard its MV Beluga Skysails vessel to assist in hauling cargo. It uses a 160-meter sail designed by by the Hamburg-based SkySails GmbH, and says that use of the sail has reduced fuel consumption by 20%. If other shipping companies followed suit, it would make a huge difference environmentally.

The company Pterosail have produced a recumbent trike that incorporates a sail and an electric-assist motor. The sailing system can be used to fully power the trike, or else in conjunction with pedaling. The sails can also convert wind energy into electrical power – stored in two 24-volt deep cycle marine batteries. This stored power can then be used to work a small electric-assist motor. The Pterosail can achieve speeds upwards of 40 miles per hour; the single-seat version needing about 8-10 mph of wind to start moving. Generally, the wind is mostly used to “assist” in combination with pedaling.

petrosailPhoto: treehugger

Perhaps the most incredible machine in this story is the one featured below. A rickshaw driver from Nepal made life easier for himself by installing a windmill on his rickshaw. Built by a professor in the next town, the windmill was made of a metal drum that adapts wind power to help provide extra thrust to the pedals. Dubbed the wind-human hybrid vehicle, the windmill is connected via a side-mounted gear to the drive wheel, making it easier to pedal in a tailwind.

These five examples are but a sampling of the imaginative uses people are beginning to make of the abundant energy that nature so freely provides. They need to be emulated all over the world, then we will really be making progress.

SOURCES: 1, 2, 3, 4