The RORMaxx Formula AE student project got some attention when we first posted on it a few weeks ago. AutoblogGreen reader Jesse K. wanted to get some information directly from the horse's mouth and contacted Rory Handel (one of the students involved) about the technical features of this wind-assisted car. Basically, the students don't think they've rewritten the rules of physics here, as you can see in the email thread of Jesse and Rory's conversation pasted after the jump. Rory gives us a little more detail on the "Air Flow Recovery" system. It's not perpetual motion, just trying to snag some extra energy as the car moves down the street. In the computer models and in the lab, at least, the system works. Full details after the jump. If you missed the first post on the RORMaxx, click here.
Jesse: If you really thing that putting wind turbines in ducts on a car is going to give a net increase in electrical energy, you are sadly mistaken. You may want to rethink your physics if you want to attract investors.
Rory: I'm sorry if you were misinformed about our intentions. We are clearly not going to make the mistake of pursuing a perpetual motion machine; that's ludicrous. We are rather exploring the possibility of a "range" extender using our 'Air Flow Recovery' system for our plug-in racing vehicle, which has already proven to work in our lab. A full computational fluid dynamics analysis is currently under way, and the drag of the system has proven to be minimal.
Just out of curiosity what led you to believe that we were trying to make a perpetual motion machine?
And just to conclude this rather dissatisfying email, I would like to mention that the profit is in the journey whether it is successful or not. I don't mean to offend you by any of this, I just felt it was important to respond. Thanks
Jesse: Can you provide any specifics of how your system is supposed to function? Because you seem to be claiming that you can recover some 20% of the energy from the supercaps+ batteries without adding to significantly to drag, where does this 20+% energy come from? Sounds like perpetual motion to me.
Also.You also make no mention of a kinetic recovery system. Why not? Regen from braking is a proven technology.
Rory: The way in which the system will specifically work is classified, but I can tell you that there will be a flap that closes at the point where the energy lost under the drag of the ducting is greater than the energy recovered from air. Our system is currently giving us 200 volts at <40 mph wind speed which is actually a 50% efficiency increase but that's excluding energy lost under the drag of the system at those speeds, however there is a substantial net gain. Also, 40 mph is less than 1/2 average race speeds.
As far as KERS goes, our system can be more cost effective believe it or not. All KERS available is quite expensive, but we might incorporate it in another chassis.
I'm not sure if you have ever built a vehicle from scratch, but this has been in development for much longer than you have been seeing on the internet.
I hope this information answers your questions. Thanks.