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Energy Independent Vehicles – Creating New Technology and a Substantial Global Business
Dr. Peter Harrop
MAR 31, 2016 19:26 PM
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Energy Independent Vehicles – Creating New Technology and a Substantial Global Business

by Dr Peter Harrop

Formula One is significant in two ways. It is a major business in its own right -- approaching $14 billion -- and it pioneers vital new technologies in a car or bus near you from the disk brake to the flywheel kinetic energy recovery system and the supercapacitor hybrid powertrain.

Paradoxically, those fearsome Formula One machines burning the rubber lead us to a safer, less polluting, more economical future. In exactly the same way, the new energy independent electric vehicles (EIVs) are starting to be both a substantial business and a creator of new technology for regular vehicles. Think of the solar aircraft up for five years and boats circumnavigating the world on sunshine alone. Less well known are Chinese microbuses with no battery but extended super-efficient solar cells. These little buses only work in daylight but they are super- green.

New announcements come thick and fast.

One is a seagoing boat with a large rotating vertical wind turbine, with straight vertical blades that safer and more powerful than any scale up of the small propeller types typically seen on sailing yachts. Developer Inergy declares, “Would 70kW of free power at a 40+% net capacity factor be useful? The time for serious on-board wind power has arrived. EcoVert is the best wind power solution for a vessel at sea. Why?

  • It is quiet and slow (30rpm max operating speed)
  • Its blade path of rotation is never toward the vessel, but around it
  • It is among the most efficient turbines in the world (Cp > 50%)
  • When turned off, it has the lowest overturning moment loads of any turbine
  • The rotor/nacelle mass is low relative to other turbine designs

Imagine a sailboat that stores the wind while at anchor, or a sailboat that looks and functions more like a traditional powerboat. How about a powerboat that has unlimited range and time cruising without refueling? Imagine the possibilities!”

And some interesting facts about EIVs -- they never need refueling, and plugging in or contactlessly charging are now on general sale, with many more to come and more efficient motors, aerodynamics and solar cells are among the early advances. Some solar vehicles even move their ultra-efficient solar cells to track the sun. This goes way beyond solar power as boats capture wind, waves and tide and some land vehicles also capture wind energy using on-board equipment; aircraft also capture thermals to generate electricity.

Learn more about EIVs at the IDTechEx Show! in Berlin, April 27-28.

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