Erm, no

Or maybe yes.

The Formula AE car will use a solar-powered battery to get it moving but will then use the airflow passing over the vehicle to power a turbine.

It will be able to accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than four seconds and is expected to cost around £100,000 when it hits the market.

Four strategically placed air intakes, which will be built discretely into the car\’s bodywork, will channel the airflowover the car\’s body towards the turbine.

There are two intakes on the front of the car and one on each side towards the rear.

The turbine itself is hidden within the car body and will be connected to an alternator which will increase the amount of electricity available to the car by 20 to 25 per cent.

Given that I know nothing about engineering it\’s a little difficult for me to comment. But isn\’t this like blowing at the sails in a yacht and expecting it to move?

You\’re trying to capture the energy from the airflow. OK. But no energy system is 100% efficient. So aren\’t you going to lose more energy capturing it (as opposed to just letting it pass by) then you\’re going to get from it?

Or have I just shown that I really don\’t know anything about engineering? Or physics?


24 thoughts on “Erm, no”

  1. Yes, it’s a perpetual motion machine, no different from trying to drive a generator from the motor the generator is connected to, just with the wind as an intermediary which makes it seem more plausible.


    “But a new prototype battery could see this time reduced to just six minutes.”

    The charging time has nothing to do with the battery. It can’t charge any faster than the solar cells can provide energy.

    Either our dynamic duo of designers are physics ignorami, or it’s a scam seeking naive investors. And another example of how the journalistic profession’s claims of how they are the guardians of standards in reporting are complete rubbish.

  2. “The charging time has nothing to do with the battery.”

    It does: if the battery is a teeny tiny hold-nothing capacity, it charges very quickly. Even from solar.

    I was going to send this story to Ben Goldacre as (alas yet another) example of fucknut arts graduates let loose on an engineering story. If they’d done their job and just recycled the press release we could have stripped away the marketing shite ourselves.

  3. I hope they don’t try to patent it. The patent office has rules that forbid it from patenting perpetual motion machines like this one. I guess they haven’t heard of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Perhaps they are associated with Steorn.

  4. The numbers expressed plain don’t work.

    Assume the motor is 100% efficient. Assume that “rac[ing] around a track for at least an hour” uses all of the specified motor power, 212 kW. Sunlight will supposedly charge the battery in 1.5 hours.

    So in 1.5 hours the battery will need to accumulate 212kWh.

    Solar flux at Earth surface at noon at the equator is about 95 watts per square foot.

    I make the solar array required at 100% efficiency to be just a tad under 1500 square feet. A square surface that size is just a bit under 38 feet on a side.

    Ignore the whole air-motion energy recovery story. The “charges from the car’s skin” story is hooey.

    And then there’s the fact that these guys can’t even spell “discreet”.

  5. LOL. I think they need to check out the laws of therodynamics. Basically this says you cannot get a free lunch. An alternater charges the battery owing to the forward motion of the car caused by the chemical energy of the petrol or diesel. In other words part of the fuel is charging your battery. This will be the case in this instance too.

  6. Kay-

    “It does: if the battery is a teeny tiny hold-nothing capacity, it charges very quickly.”

    That’s not what the context is. They article, scientifically illiterate as it is, is talking about charging time, with an implication of “for the same number of Ampere hours”. If you need more capacity, just fit more batteries. The limiting factor would be energy availability.


    You can’t do anything with those assumptions, because without friction your turbine won’t turn. Whatever derives power from the wind has to impede its flow, and the more it does so the more energy it can derive (the energy has to be extracted from the wind by slowing the wind down). But by impeding the wind, you create drag, which the engine requires energy to overcome.

    The more energy you try to extract from the wind, the more energy you need for your engine; and because of inefficiencies (second Law) the extra power required for the engine will always be greater than the energy derived from the turbine. There’s no way around that. If there were, you would have perpetual motion.

  7. Oh, LOL. A bit of googling inspired by the obvious fact that this is just copied from a press release (with some errors, “Maxx Bricklinas” is actually called Max Bricklin) reveals that this is just a project by two high school kids!

  8. And then there’s the fact that these guys can’t even spell “discreet”.

    Actually it might be correct in this instance.

  9. Googling “RORMaxx Formula AE” give 28,000+ results.

    Bullsh*t travels at the speed of sound!

    Watchout for the 1st gormless politician to mention “wind-powered” cars.

  10. What Pogo said.

    Didn’t these tossers ever play with Meccano when they were kids, or visit the Science Museum?

    Guess not.

  11. So Much For Subtlety

    The first thought I had was when they said “turbine” they meant a jet engine. Then it became obvious that this was another perpetual energy machine. Not even a good one. Perhaps they ought to go back to the jet engine? You could run one on alcohol after all which is all biofuel tends to be. Who wouldn’t want a four jet engine powered car? Batman eat your heart out.

  12. Michael Butler,

    “And then there’s the fact that these guys can’t even spell “discreet”.”


    I suggest that you discreetly revisit your dictionary. “Discreet” and “discrete” are different words with… er… two discrete meanings…


  13. I have some guy named Madoff on the line trying to sell me shares in a startup to fund this. Whaddaya think?

  14. Butle is correct, I believe. The intent of the sentence seems to that of unobstrusiveness, requiring “discreet.” They’ve already old us there are “four,” so the correct meaning of “discrete” would still leave a superfluity (“left over,” perhaps?).

    Mr. Butler: Good on yer! Kick ’em when they’re down is the rule. Right square in the punctillios!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *