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« IPCC reversion | Main | International Disinformation Agency »

Perpetual nonsense

Holly Williams, Sky News's China correspondent, reports on a Chinese farmer who has discovered a solution to the world energy crisis. The answer, it seems, is a hybrid electric/wind powered car. Apparently, above 40mph, a wind turbine kicks in and starts to generate power for the car.

Yes, our Holly has uncovered a perpetual motion machine!

Watch the video while you can.

(H/T Niels)

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Reader Comments (53)

Problem solved then. Next... cold fusion? Oh I forgot some chap in Italy has that one sorted. We can all relax I 'spose.

May 16, 2012 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterAndyS

The Dutch have many windmills to keep themselves cool.

May 16, 2012 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

This is the inverse of the vehicle in Barbarella which had an electric fan on the back which blew into a sail pushing the vehicle along - in practice of course it would have gone backwards (slowly) because of the sails' inefficiency in capturing the wind from the fan. At least the Chinese car will, I suppose, have slightly less wind-resistance when the turbine is opened and so may waste a bit less energy pushing against the air resistance, though good aerodynamics would presumably beat this factor!

May 16, 2012 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterIan E

The age of enlightenment is well and truly dead.

May 16, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Story gets pwned in its own comments

May 16, 2012 at 10:55 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Hughes

It reminds me of George Carlin's comment. "Think how dumb the average person is. Half the people are even dumber than that!"

May 16, 2012 at 10:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSebastian Weetabix

Hold on a minute, if he deployed it only for the downhill sections he could generate enough to power his reversing lights, this would go down a storm in L.A.

May 16, 2012 at 11:01 AM | Unregistered Commentercmdocker

This chap's thinking is incorrect of course, but it's perfectly possible for him to show a net energy gain with a windmill fitted to his car, and believe his reasoning is correct.

Consider a car with it's handbrake on, and a small turbine on the bonnet; when there's a headwind, you'll be able to charge your battery. And you can extent this principle to take advantage of a crosswind etc. etc.

What's not possible is for him to do anything other than squander energy as low grade waste heat if he's driving in otherwise calm and windless conditions.

So a bit more of a subtle experiment than you might think, and he could easily be measuring "free" energy to some extent but totally misunderstanding what's happening.

May 16, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

There is a simple solution to wind turbines that don't turn on windless days.

Turn half the turbines round to face other stationary turbines and call these "the driving turbines". Then start them, using power from the grid, so they produce wind directed toward the otherwise stationary turbines (call the latter "the driven turbines").

As soon as they get up to speed, the driving turbine supply can be switched from the grid to the output from the driven turbines. It's a simple solution but the so-called "engineers" of the wind turbine companies are too pig headed to be willing to put it into practice.

May 16, 2012 at 11:19 AM | Unregistered Commenterthyristor

Why not just hang a magnet off the front of the car? Must work, no?

May 16, 2012 at 11:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterAgouts

thyrister, I hope you missed the /sarc tag off that!

May 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Ian E, the mythbusters made a fan and sail boat. It went forward, although that is a function of relative efficiencies of the sail and the fan. Small diameter fans aren't all that efficient,. Of course as the fan is powered perpetual motion does not apply, and the fan alone would always work better.

May 16, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterRhoda

Problem solved then. Next... cold fusion? Oh I forgot some chap in Italy has that one sorted. We can all relax I 'spose.
May 16, 2012 at 10:29 AM | Unregistered Commenter AndyS

AndyS - It is not just Prof. Rossi that has been working on LENR e.g. NASA LENR video.

Conflating LENR with perpetual motion is not fair - who is to say that that fission and 'hot' fusion are the only ways to convert mass to energy?

Rossi is too busy to bother with ignorant journalists (and having seen Holly's output no wonder!) and apart from Wired magazine no one in the mainstream media has given the latest developments a mention. I have not been following it closely but NASA bosses appear to be keeping very quiet about it also - hence to need for an FOI request to get a copy of a recent presentation by Zawodny:

Interesting times.

May 16, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Registered Commenterlapogus

thyrister, I hope you missed the /sarc tag off that!
May 16, 2012 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

Please spell my ID correcly. Are you a member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers? Sounds like it.

May 16, 2012 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered Commenterthyristor

thyrister, please spell "correctly" correctly.

And no, I'm not a member of the IEE. Does this mean that you actually believe what you wrote about using windmills powered by the grid to blow air on other windmills? I assumed you were being sarcastic, but now your snipey reply makes me fear you were being serious.

May 16, 2012 at 12:00 PM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

So what, a Chinese guy has invented a perpetual motion machine? He's in good company because that is what the IPCC have created in the climate models!

May 16, 2012 at 12:02 PM | Unregistered Commentermydogsgotnonose

May 16, 2012 at 11:52 AM | Rhoda

Surely it would have been easier to use the power source for the fan, presumably on board, just to power a traditional propeller? Granted you couldn't have made a TV show out of it, I think it's been done before (the propeller).


May 16, 2012 at 12:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I might not be popular for saying this, but I don't think it's completely crazy. A moving vehicle always encounters friction with the oncoming air which it has to overcome. Really doesn't matter if the air hits turbine blades or a static panel it's still drag. It's not perpetual motion of course but may reduce the load on the main power source when cruising at speed. In theory it could work as such, in practice efficiency factors might make it futile.

May 16, 2012 at 12:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

A Windturbine powered car or boat can travel in any direction (including directly upwind) as long as there is wind.

It is essentially the same principle as sailing, and you can potentially travel several times wind speed (if wind is from side), the turbine gives the extra advantage of direct up-wind capability.

Deployable wind turbines on cars would be good for recharging Hybrids when they're stationary.

May 16, 2012 at 12:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobL

Perpetual motion it is not. The turbine as a range extender to recover energy when braking or going downhill would work but the way he has set it up I doubt it is helpful.

I expect the claimed better performance than other electric cars will be down to the narrow body shape and skinny tyres rather than the fan.

May 16, 2012 at 12:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Whether this works or not is totally dependent on the rate of "feed-in-tariff" set by the government. Stationary turbines work this way, so why not mobile ones?

You could have a "smart meter" that texts your electricity supplier, who then automatically pay into your bank account. That way, if you were running low on cash, or had an unexpected bill to pay, you could just go for a drive!

May 16, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered CommenterHeide De Klein

Thyristor - please tell us you were not serious about your plan...!

May 16, 2012 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterhysteria

Almost as stupid as believing
a) regulation and taxation can create jobs.
b) recursive climate models can maintain their data content!

May 16, 2012 at 1:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

If he locks the fan so that it cannot turn then the range will extend. The rotating fan is a contributor to overall drag, not to overall thrust. The battery is the only power source, every other feature is parasitic to that, including any electrical output from the rotating fan (unclear from the video) which would be less than that required to push it through the air.

May 16, 2012 at 1:29 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Are you a member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers?

I would guess not, anyone who was a member would know the "Institution of Electrical Engineers" or IEE no longer exists, having now merged with the IIE to form the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). Only about six years ago mind, so still quite topical ;-)

May 16, 2012 at 1:50 PM | Unregistered CommenterSpence_UK

Sebastian Weetabix - George Carlin, what a sad loss. The planet is fine, the people are f...ked

May 16, 2012 at 1:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterGrantB

It might work in an hurricane.

'Suicidal Green Storm Chasers'

(Let's hope that Sky aren't reading - this would almost certainly be a popular show).

May 16, 2012 at 2:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

Nobody would call a boat with sails a perpetual motion machine. The same should be true of a car with sails. Of course it is impracticable. At least at sea there are no buildings or hills to block the wind.

May 16, 2012 at 3:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I love the /sarc tag, perhaps people would be good enough to start using /funny so I know when to laugh too.

May 16, 2012 at 3:57 PM | Unregistered Commenterjaffa

Planetary saviours have been at the forefront of perpetual motion for many years. My favourite is the finding by Frouin and Iacobellis of Scripps (published in JGR, 2002) that phytoplankton cause global warming by absorbing sunlight for photosynthesis.

May 16, 2012 at 4:43 PM | Unregistered CommenterR Taylor

To quote David Cameron "LOL"!

May 16, 2012 at 4:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

It's probably wise to send correspondents to China who are unable to see or think too clearly.

May 16, 2012 at 4:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

"I might not be popular for saying this, but I don't think it's completely crazy."

David, it's completely crazy. As simpleseekeraftertruth says, if you created two identical cars and locked the fan on one and let the other spin and generate electricity from the wind generated by forward movement then the one with the spinning fan would use more fuel. The force of turning the fan will add work which will slow the car.

May 16, 2012 at 5:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterMrPotarto

Thyristor "It's a simple solution but the so-called "engineers" of the wind turbine companies are too pig headed to be willing to put it into practice."

The driving turbine consuming £x per KW and the driven earning £4x per KW - you sure they're not doing it?

May 16, 2012 at 5:45 PM | Unregistered Commentersimpleseekeraftertruth

Well I like thyristor's plan. It's similar to mine. On cloudy days we could power up some light bulbs in front of our solar panels, and then when the panels start pushing out electricity the bulbs could be taken off the mains and run directly from the solar panel. It's a win/win.

Actually I did have an idea that I think is worthy of a Nobel prize. Why do we use electricity to make lifts go down? Gravity will do that for you. Six fat blokes get in a lift on the top floor, let gravity do the work, and capture all that lovely free energy. I reckon our cities could be powered by fat blokes in lifts. And what about multi-story carparks? You park at the top. By the time you get back to the car it's at the bottom, saving you a walk, and generating lots of juicy energy. Why don't we do these things? We need to start thinking outside of the box if we're to avoid the climate apocalypse thingy.

May 16, 2012 at 5:48 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

He'd get even more free energy if his car had larger wheels in the rear so it would always be rolling downhill. (Can't recall who first proposed that!)

IIRC, there was an apparently serious idea some years ago to make "free" electricity by equipping highways with strips that would deform a little when cars ran over them, and using that motion to drive generators.

May 16, 2012 at 6:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterDave Bob

I'm kind of guessing that the absence of any follow up comment from thyristor implies that he/she really was serious!!!! God I hope not. Either that or he/she is yhe kind of person who likes to interject with some outrageous comment or other, then sit back and watch the fun....stir, stir. :)

May 16, 2012 at 6:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterSunderlandSteve

lapogus (11:52 AM):
"Rossi is too busy to bother with ignorant journalists..."

Apparently he is too cashed up to ignore Australian Skeptics' million-dollar-prize as well. The money was offered to Rossi for a demonstration of his new invention. He declined the offer (you can't trust skeptics these days, you see?) but instead offered to sell a unit.

Australia’s most famous businessman, Dick Smith, offered $1,000,000, with no strings attached, to an Italian inventor if he could prove his cold fusion invention works.

But despite being given a week to think it over, the inventor, Bologna-based Andrea Rossi, rejected the offer immediately, and in no uncertain terms.

Rossi publicly described the offer as “clownerie”.

“If this guy wants to test a 1 MW plant and has 1 million to spend he can buy a 1 MW plant, with a regular contract, that gives him all the necessary guarantees and to us the logic financial guarantees. Our plants Are tested by Our Customers and the Consultants they choose. I have not time at all for this clownery. Besides: when Our E-Cats will be in the market, this ‘millionaire’ will have the chance to buy for few hundred dollars an E-Cat and test it as he wants, so why waste money? I do not need his money.” [Quoted verbatim]

There are more details on the Australian Skeptics webpage.

I'd suggest at this stage anyone giving Rossi credit for anything is gambling with his own credibility.

May 16, 2012 at 10:36 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Lack of a response could just as easily be evidence of understated humour.

Although the prize for that so far goes to Hedie De Klein IMO - nice :-)

May 16, 2012 at 10:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

I think the inventor has missed a trick.

If he put some more turbines on the front surely he would be able to supply all the power that the car needed and might even have enough left over to charge the battery?

May 16, 2012 at 11:10 PM | Unregistered Commentergraphicconception

MrPotarto your physics is lacking, or understanding of this situation. The vehicle has to displace air particles in order to move forward, this is a given in all circumstances. The frontal area which impacts those particles need not increase with the addition of a turbine. It is sapping energy from its own main power source, but it is energy which was already consumed (transferred).

Kinetic energy of the vehicle transferred to kinetic energy of the air particles in front of it. Usual.

Kinetic energy of the vehicle transferred to kinetic energy of the air particles in front of it and kinetic energy within the turbine. This. (Note: no reference to quantity or perpetuation)

It's a complicated fluid dynamics scenario which only a wind tunnel or simulation would provide the exact answers for. Imagine a turbine shaped like a bowl with blades swept back. It would be aerodynamic and would still turn. (one problem is the double hit - they hit the blade first, then get through and still hit the vehicle)

Actually in some scenarios they quite purposely create drag i.e. for concerning or to keep a high speed vehicle from taking off. What if a turbine was used to kill two birds with one stone in the latter scenario?

May 17, 2012 at 5:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

I am still recovering my jaw from somewhere around my navel at the literally jaw-dropping stupidity of Holly Whatsit after watching this video. The trio that are so entertaining on 'Top Gear' are, no doubt, racing out a job offer for her! :-)

May 17, 2012 at 6:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

May 17, 2012 at 5:47 AM | David

What if a turbine was used to kill two birds with one stone in the latter scenario?

In some UK schools, wind turbines have a proven record of killing more than two birds all on their own; stones not required.

May 17, 2012 at 8:19 AM | Unregistered CommenterBrownedoff

And I thought Finnish journalists were intellectually challenged ...

May 17, 2012 at 9:02 AM | Unregistered CommenterJean S

It might keep flies from hitting the windscreen and making a mess.

For a great Enviro spoof on Air Sharing, this is a must watch. As bottled water has been highly successful, then bottled air should be also:

The follow up is hilarious as well:

May 17, 2012 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterDennisA

Seems he forgot to fit the car with any suspension either....

May 17, 2012 at 1:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Reminds me of a question I posed on the 16th:

'Just watch this on @skynews Had 2 check date. A wind turbine driving a car powered by driving the fan? How's that work?'

No answer. I followed up with...

'"When the car reaches 40mph, the blades spring into action & begin generating pollution-free power" The word 'could' in a H/L is never good'

Still no answer.

I think our Holly could be the next Richard Black.

Have Cameron, Clegg & whoever is the new Huhne (with the rare support of Mr. Miliband) made any UK motor manufacturer a subsidy deal they can't refuse to rush it into production?

May 17, 2012 at 4:21 PM | Unregistered CommenterJunkkMale

I also note in the SKY version featured, they have snuck in a 'Critics are saying' snark in a manner to avoid accepting their grasp of physics is as lousy as their grasp of news 'reporting' or admitting when they have been played.
Got to love the media here. And here...
They appear to have not yet got the memo either.

May 17, 2012 at 4:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJunkkMale

I met a highschool student here in Florida that invented an electric wheelchair with bicycle dinamos on the wheels to keep the battery charged!

May 17, 2012 at 8:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndres Valencia

Wonderful. Cheap but priceless.

May 17, 2012 at 9:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve

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