A water wheel to drive an electric car? Fat chance
Such is the case with the latest idea to emerge from Balch Springs Texas resident Tony Thompson. The principle of using the water wheel to convert the kinetic energy of flowing water into mechanical energy dates back to at least ancient Mesopotamia. The principal is still used today in hydro-electric dams that use water to drive turbines tied to electrical generators. Thompson came up with the idea of using something similar to replace batteries to generate electricity to drive a car.
Unfortunately, using a 12V battery to pump liquid through a water wheel tied to a 240V generator simply isn't feasible. The pumping losses, resistance in the pipes and friction in the water wheel mean you will never get out all of the energy that the 12V battery puts in. This is effectively the same as simply using a transformer to step up the voltage from 12V to 240V but is likely less efficient. If such a system were implemented it would likely drain the 12V battery in a couple of minutes.
[Source: Dallas Morning News]
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