Tested on the California/Nevada border, the Ecotricity Greenbird broke the land speed record for wind-powered vehicles. The Greenbird clocked in at a top speed of 126.4 mph and maintained a speed of 126.2 mph for three seconds. The previous record was 116mph.
The Greenbird is a collaboration between Ecotricity and engineer Richard Jenkins. Ecotricity is an independent green electricity company based in the UK founded and owned by entrepreneur Dale
Vince. Jenkins is the founder of the Windjet project and has a wide range of skills in engineering, design, piloting, and construction experience. Both sides are innovative, experienced, and have a passion for wind energy as a solution for transportation and utilities.
Relying on the same concepts used to design racing yachts, airplanes, and Formula 1 race cars, the Greenbird maximizes the thrust from the wind and minimizes drag. Carbon fiber composite
materials used for the structure have the stiffness and strength needed to transfer the wind loads from the vertical wing.
The vertical wing efficiently cuts through the air to generate a pressure differential which provides the forward thrust. The fuselage holds two, with a front cockpit that contains the steering wheel and throttle. The rear cockpit controls all the electronics and timing gear. It starts by simply removing the blocks from the front, and brakes by reversing the wing to create drag.
The successful design and lessons learned from the Greenbird are allowing Jenkins and Vince to look into the future – where fossil fuels are no longer providing our energy and transport. Jenkins believes that wind-powered vehicles could be built for use on a daily basis. Vince wants Ecotricity to deliver wind power to the masses, and the next generation of micro turbines could come from the same technology that the Greenbird employed to break the land speed record.
Image: Peter Lyons