Could wind-power be used to operate the driver’s seat . . . ?
Okay, so this is going to sound utterly mad and, because I am monumentally shite at art, there are no pictures to support this idea. You’ll just have to use a giant elastic band to help stretch your imagination a bit.
But has anybody thought of using wind to power a car?
I’m not talking about strapping a giant wind turbine to the roof of a Maybach because, clearly, that would be lunacy. And would just look plain stupid. But I’ve been thinking recently, and in this world where everybody is obsessed with terminating the internal combustion engine and replacing it with something polar bear friendly I wonder if the motor industry could be missing a trick here.
It seems that the two most plausible alternatives to the petrol/diesel options are electricity and hydrogen.
If somebody could safely find a way of storing and transporting hydrogen, this would surely be the cleverest way forward and I’ve even read that a hydrogen powered car could be used to power your house in the evening, relieving load from the National Grid.
But, right now, nobody’s come up with a sensible solution to the transportation and storage of hydrogen and every time I think of H-cars all I see in my mind’s eye is a motorway full of mushroom clouds careening down the tarmac.
So everybody’s chasing the Holy Grail: electric cars. Now, these seem great in theory but in practice you end up with a G-Wizz.
The other big problem with electric cars is the issue of charging, and range. For most electric cars, it takes the night to give them a decent charge that’ll see them capable of driving you to work and back. When you switch them on, the range indicator will read something like 250 miles available.
Then, when you drive up the road, reach 40mph and switch on the radio and the windscreen wipers, the battery will run out.
Here’s where I think wind power could come in. Logically, to generate power, you need wind. That’s why all our wind farms are cited on the top of hills or out at sea, where there’s a surfeit of blustery air that allows 100 turbines to power one house.
Without wind, you can’t generate electricity so, clearly, a complete wind powered car would be utterly useless as it would never get started.
But what if we could use wind to complement the electrical structure of our eco friendly car?
After all, once a car is in motion it is doing its damnedest to force its way through the air and I’m sure some clever boffin out there would be able to tell me exactly how much wind would be forced through the front grill of a car at different speeds.
There’s probably some really complicated calculation that involves sin waves and other unintelligible symbols that I don’t understand that works it all out.
Surely, though, a wind turbine of some sort could be mounted behind the grill where a normal car’s radiator would be so that when the car is up and running the air rushing through the front of the car could be turned in to potential energy.
Perhaps it could be used to power the radio. Or the air conditioning. Or the driver’s electric seat.
Understandably, right now you need big turbines and lots of them to generate sufficient electricity just to power a bungalow, but it’s not beyond the realms of science fiction that a bank of small turbines tucked away behind the car’s nose could even be used to recharge the battery while the vehicle’s in motion.
So, there you have it then: the official wind-powered car. But until the boffins make it work, I’ll stick with my oxygen-sapping 3.3 litre V6.