Wind Explorer wind-powered car traveled across Australia
The Wind Explorer is a lightweight electrically-, wind- and kite-powered vehicle all in one. It might seem as a concept, but it already exists and it is on its route across the Australian continent. With extreme efficiency, the Wind Explorer combines technologies that are available today, but neither sensibly nor fully utilized. The wind explorer only uses a fraction of the energy of the most efficient cars with combustion engine of today.
Every day, in the course of the Wind Explorer’s 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) journey coast to coast straight across Australia, pilots Stefan Simmerer and Dirk Gion set up a mobile wind turbine to recharge the vehicle’s lithium-ion-batteries. As an additional source of power, they use large kites in crosswinds to pull their vehicle.
The Wind Explorer is an absolute lightweight, a wind-electromobile, an open roadster for two which weighs in at 200 kilograms including 4 blocks of 14 batteries with ceramic separators cells each and wind turbine. Its top speed is 80 kilometers per hour (50 mph), but its pilots claim it that Wind Explorer performs most economic power consumption at 45-60 kilometers per hour (roughly 30-40 mph).
The Wind Explorer combines lithum-ion technology, lightweight carbon fiber sandwich technology, low friction tires and an aerodynamic form. It is so efficient that the little wind turbine carried aboard can produce enough energy for a daily distance of 250 to 400 kilometers (155 to 250 miles). By comparison: for a 100-kilometer stretch, the Wind Explorer needs roughly half the amount of electricity needed to wash and dry a load of wash.
The starting point for the continental crossing was south of Perth in Albany, Australia’s southwest-most point. From there the route followed the south coast through the Nullarbor plain, Adelaide and Melbourne all the way to Sydney on the Pacific Ocean. It has been able to cover 200 to 490-kilometer legs every day. The first 1,000 kilometers in Western Australia were spent adjusting and fine-tuning the wind turbine and lithium-ion- battery components. During this first project phase, electricity was drawn from the Australian grid. Since crossing the border to South Australia, however, the team has been relying nearly exclusively on self-generated wind power.
Although we most probably won’t see a large number of these vehicles in our surroundings, the Wind Explorer serves its intended purpose to inspire ideas about limiting the bad effects of traffic on the environment – while staying mobile as well. Who knows, maybe it inspires some kind of sport where both technology and vehicles would be perfected for better performance.