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Old 04-26-2009, 01:55 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Electric Car Wind Generator Charger demo unit

Hey Guys,

With all the interest that I have been getting showing off my electric car at various events, I would like to be able to expand my demo.

Because the car is basically a big array of batteries, I would like to show off more about electric use and renewable energy with the car.

One thing I am planning on is to add a small power inverter and run a floor lamp next to the car, demonstrating how an electric car could be useful to connect to a house in case of a blackout. It also would start the discussion on Vehicle to Grid technology.

That would be easy to do. I already have a lamp and an inverter, although I wish I had a 72Vdc to 120AC converter instead of only a 12vdc to 120ac converter. It will still work fine though. One CFL lamp is NOTHING compared to driving a 2800 lb car for a mile.

The other thing I am toying with is to build a small wind generator to recharge the car. The idea is NOT to build a windmill that would be a practical recharger for the car. Rather, it is simply to show that it can be done. You can power an electric car from wind, and can't do the same thing with a gas car.

I am imagining a unit that could fold up to be carried inside the car. I would use a base of a flat piece of metal welded to a short piece of steel pipe perpendicular to it. I would just park one of the car tires on the plate, and then slide a longer section of pipe into the pipe on the base to make a simple tower, maybe 10 feet tall. (2 5-foot sections of pipe with a coupler would pack easy into the car)

I understand the BASIC theory of wind generation. Ideally, I would like to be able to use it to charge the 72 (or 144V) battery pack. Alternatively, just charging one of the 12V batts would also be acceptable.

What I am looking for is an tips you might have on good, simple ways of building the generator, using inexpensive (or free, or salvaged, recycled, etc.) parts.

All suggestions are welcome.

Thanks,

-Ben

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Old 04-26-2009, 08:32 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Hello Ben,

This is my first post on EcoModder.

If you want to learn more about wind turbines, there is one website that I think is far and away the best website on the subject.

Welcome to OTHERPOWER.COM

I recommend you begin on the following page:
Wind Power

That page has a list of a wide variety of different experimental home brew projects. Some are obviously inappropriate for your use.

The website is especially good if you are interested in BUILDING YOUR OWN using scrap parts. The site has been built by a small group of home owners in the Mountains that live many miles away from the nearest powerlines.

I also suggest checking out the Godfather of Homebrew Wind Turbines, Hugh Piggot.
Hugh Piggott - Scoraig Wind Electric

His axial flux generator design is the best one out there, IMO.




Now that I've given you those places to look, I'd like to offer my editorial opinion on your demonstration idea.


Please think through the message that you are sending. BE CAREFUL.

Think about what message you are wanting to convey to your audience. How many people will walk by your car with a tiny wind turbine and not ask questions? How many won't bother to read whatever signs or papers you are handing out? Just having a tiny wind turbing sitting next to an electric car could be misleading to many people. The uninformed casually walking past may get the impression that a small turbine is practical to power a car. I realize YOU know better, but will the average pedestrian understand as they walk past your display?

Also, there is a great deal more to wind power than simply having a turbine. In fact, the wind turbine itself usually only represents 1/4 to 1/3 of the total cost of a wind power installation. The site location, wind conditions, charge controller, low loss electrical cable, and most importantly, THE TOWER add more cost to the project than most people realize. (Roof mounted Wind Turbines are a MASSIVE MISTAKE in almost every circumstance.)

In my humble opinion, you'd educate an average person far more effectively by having a poster with a picture of a LARGE wind turbine on a big tower sitting next to your car. People wouldn't get the wrong impression that way.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm an advocate of Wind Power. It's just that there are a lot of snake oil salesmen selling small turbines that really don't do much. I'm confident that you are honest, but I'd hate for you to accidentally misrepresent the real capabilities and send someone down the wrong path.


I hope you find the links fun reading and helpful.
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Old 04-26-2009, 08:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Hey SlurryGuy,

Thanks for the links.

I looked at OtherPower a while back. Looked like there was lots of good things on there. I will have to dig deeply through it again.

I hear what you are saying about the big picture of wind energy.

One of the real common questions I often get with the car is asking about adding solar panels to it. I then do the explanation about how solar panels best work being very large and mounted to an array or a roof. It would be similar, actually TALKING to people with a wind demo.

A poster of a large wind generator would certainly NOT get as much attention as a very small, but actual working wind generator.
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Old 04-26-2009, 08:49 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You might consider contacting DanF or DanB from Otherpower.

They were at the Midwest Renewable Energy fair in Wisconsin last year. Perhaps they will be there again this year?

Perhaps there could be some type of way to combine both of your displays? Maybe they could provide a demonstration and actually charge your car for REAL?
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
The other thing I am toying with is to build a small wind generator to recharge the car. The idea is NOT to build a windmill that would be a practical recharger for the car. Rather, it is simply to show that it can be done. You can power an electric car from wind, and can't do the same thing with a gas car.
I'm not completely clear on that part. The idea is to show
  1. A non-operational (but potentially workable) proto-type of a portable wind powered generator for the car?
  2. That it's possible to use a fixed (home base) wind power generator to charge the car?
    (Don't you want a scale model of what's actually needed, rather than some harf-arsed, non-functional, non-workable display?
  3. Something else?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
I am imagining a unit that could fold up to be carried inside the car. I would use a base of a flat piece of metal welded to a short piece of steel pipe perpendicular to it. I would just park one of the car tires on the plate, and then slide a longer section of pipe into the pipe on the base to make a simple tower, maybe 10 feet tall. (2 5-foot sections of pipe with a coupler would pack easy into the car)
Assuming you meant #1 above, channel steel

has a much better strength to weight ratio than flat plate.

Weld a small flat plate to the open side at one end of a length of channel. Flat plate goes under tire. Closed end of channel faces up. Weld 6" length of pipe stub near but not at the other end of the channel. Call that the main leg. You'll need some sort to cross leg for lateral stability. Take another piece of channel approximately the same length as the first. Lay it across the first channel (closed side to closed side) to form a tee. Drill a hole though the two pieces so you can attach them. (This is a take apart base, rather than a fold-up. Use a wing nut or wing head bolt so no wrench is needed.) Cut a two or three inch piece of channel and weld it to the cross leg so that it prevents the leg from turning on the bolt while the cross leg is in use. Drill holes and weld nuts to far ends of cross leg. Weld large washers to the heads of bolts for adjustable feet for cross leg. Use sections of pipe for the mast as you've previously describe, but add gui-wires supports with turn buckles from top of the mast to the ends of the cross legs and to the car end of the main leg.
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Old 04-26-2009, 10:47 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TestDrive View Post
[*]A non-operational (but potentially workable) proto-type of a portable wind powered generator for the car?[*]That it's possible to use a fixed (home base) wind power generator to charge the car?
(Don't you want a scale model of what's actually needed, rather than some harf-arsed, non-functional, non-workable display?[*]Something else?[/LIST]
I would want to show a functional, but low power windmill that could actually create power (no matter how little). It would be used to attract attention and educate people to the fact that electric vehicles can be run from alternative power, such as wind-electric.

I would indicate that I DO NOT actually do main charging of the car from the device, but that a home-scale wind turbine, or buying power over the grid from wind generation would.

I DO get a large chunk of the electricity at my house from wind power, over the grid, through my utilities renewable energy program. (I also get a large part from bio-gas, but I don't think I want to demo that!)
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Old 04-27-2009, 01:03 AM   #7 (permalink)
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The three biggest change wind turbine owners normally say they wish they had done are getting a taller tower, a taller tower and a taller tower...
Anyone who says a wind turbine on a short tower is a good idea is either trying to take your money, or is bad at math, or both and they should not be trusted and should be kicked in the pants before they try to scam anyone else.
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Old 04-27-2009, 11:02 AM   #8 (permalink)
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I agree with that 100%. But I do NOT need a 50' tower to show off the fact that you can connect a wind generator to a car.

A big part of why I buy renewable energy over the power lines is because my yard is shady, (no solar!) and I wouldn't be able to get a wind tower permit. (right next to the road!)
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Old 04-27-2009, 03:49 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Another link for DIY turbine projects: Competition

And you've probably already seen this, Ben:



From: http://web.archive.org/web/200704020...co.uk/wind.htm

(OT: I can't believe he deleted his solarvan pages! Thank you Web Archive.)
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Old 04-27-2009, 04:20 PM   #10 (permalink)
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What about a scale model wind generator? Maybe a working one, big enough to power a single CFL bulb. Then you could put a scale model of your car beside it. You're showing the concept to the passer-by, but not misleading on the size required.

Mini windmill (working), powering a light, with a model car plugged into it.

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