Wind is not often thought of as a potential energy source for cars, but two ambitious high school students in California are researching the possibilities. RORMaxx founders Rory Handel and Max Bricklin are working out the kinks on an electric vehicle powered mainly by the wind and the sun.
Their Formula AE race car is in its infancy, exhisting only in an early-design phase. The alternative energy racer will be powered by a 285 hp alternating current induction motor, using the latest technologies available in sustainable energy. Lightweight, and ultrathin SolarPly paneling will recharge the cars lithium-phosphate batteries, while extending the car's range by anywhere from 15% to 30%. Once moving, the four air intakes guide airflow into four small turbines. Electric charge generated from these fans will be stored in ultracapacitors for immediate need, something key to quick acceleration.
No doubt Rory Handel's motor racing ambitions have played into the design. The car has been planned with the shape of a Formula 1 vehicle in mind. Built of aluminum, with steel in some places, the Formula AE will have front and rear crash boxes to keep the driver safe. Racing suspension and aluminum monobloc calipers will be included. Forged magnesium racing wheels wrapped in medium-compound tires is meant to counter the added weight of the batteries and electrics.
Once fully designed, RORMaxx is interested in manufacturing body panels from a hemp-based composite fibre, to keep the car as lightweight as carbon fibre, while still maintaining a green image.
The use of hemp may have you second-guessing these students' intentions, however, RORMaxx' founders are anything but hippie-wannabes. Unlike other alternative energy groups, this organization is not quick to criticize the oil industry. They are more complementary, recognizing the part big oil has played in research and development while pointing out that companies will always need to make a profit. They site John D. Rockefeller as their inspiration. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil as a means of ushering in a new era of industry in the United States. His plan was to make money from oil drilling and distribution, but to use that money for more research, according to the group.
Believing that an infinite source of usable energy is more valuable than a limited supply of fossil fuels, research into the Formula AE is meant to demonstrate how capable we are of living with less reliance on oil.