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Saturday, November 24, 2012

How Many Hundreds Of Millions Do We Waste On Electric Cars?


A Chinese farmer worried about his country’s pollution problem has come up with a bizarre four-wheeled solution.
In a small tractor workshop in the dusty village of Banjiehe, an hour outside Beijing, 55-year-old Tang Zhenping has been hard at work on a car he dreams will one day become the people's popular choice.

Mr Tang's model - built in just three months for around £1,000 - is electric, with a battery that needs to be charged from the mains.
Its engine uses scrap parts from a motorcycle and electric scooter, while its steering wheel, upholstery and headlights all come from a Chinese-made Xiali hatchback.
But what makes the one-seater special is the turbine on its nose.
When the car reaches 40mph, the blades spring into action, generating what Mr Tang claims is extra power.
He claims the turbine means his car's battery – which would otherwise need to be recharged daily – only requires charging every three days.

However, critics say that any power generated by the turbine would be outweighed by the energy expended in propelling the vehicle forwards.
The farmer says he dreamed of building an electric car for three decades, but was unable to interest government officials or private investors.
He now hopes car manufacturers will take an interest in his prototype.
"I'm not doing this just for the money," he told Sky News.
"I dream of seeing my car being driven on highways. I want to serve the people."


  1. China, the new America .........;(

  2. The reporter went through her entire spiel oblivious to physics.

    The same motor that pushes the car forward is turning the blades of the "turbine". The car would be more efficient without it.

  3. Jeffrey--I thought the same thing. Then I'm thinking what they are getting at is that the turbine at speed turns an alternator supplying current to the battery. Theoretically this would put juice back into the battery while he drives and maintains enough charge to propel the car longer than conventional means. I'm no fan of electric cars but it's an interesting thought.

  4. Anonymous--Right, the turbine turns the alternator, and the alternator supplies current to the battery. But the battery supplies current to the wheels, which moves the car through the air (and thus the air past the turbine), making the turbine turn. The battery is causing the blades to rotate.

    Imagine you have two fans facing each other, one hooked to a battery and one hooked to an alternator and then to the same battery. Turn on the fan connected to the battery. It blows on the other fan, turning the alternator. Yes, it generates current, which is sent back to the battery "charging" it. Downwind, the air flow is less, having expended energy turning the alternator's fan. You get less air flow, and net less work done by the first fan (not as much air).

    Each time you convert one form of energy into another form, you lose something. There is no 100% efficient converter. Even if you did, the net work out of the first fan would still never exceed what came out of the battery in the first place. You would gain nothing.

  5. Oh, forgot. The only time it would do any good is if you used the turbine only for braking. Then it would charge the battery (they call it regenerative braking). You just have to make sure the aerodynamic effect of the turbine doesn't cause drag when you don't want it.

  6. Jeffrey--no argument here. Basic physics at work. Was just trying to get at what they were thinking. In theory, everything works great--in practice, not so much. I'm familiar with regenerative braking--hybrid cars use the same principle. Train locomotive manufacturers are playing with the same principle in experimental locomotives to test battery assist to cut down on emissions. Dynamic braking involves reversing polarity where the traction motors become generators and produce current to recharge batteries--while any excess current is sent to a resistor grid and is dissipated as heat.


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