Wind Turbine Powered Tricycle

What do you get if you combine a wind turbine with a tricycle? The Ventomobile - a vehicle that can drive directly into the wind, but is also powered by the wind.

The Ventomobile and a host of similar vehicles recently (August 23, 2008) competed in the Aeolus Race in Holland. (I would advise against visiting the competition website as it poses a security risk.) The race required the competitors to drive directly into the wind, powered only by the wind. The rules explicitly forbid tacking, so traditional sailed-based land yachts were barred.

The Ventomobile was the overall Aeolus competition winner, constructed by 20 students at Stuttgart University calling themselves the InVentus team. Due to the Venotmobile's lightweight composite construction and streamlined body, it reached a top speed that was 64% that of the oncoming wind speed. The wind turbine directly drove the vehicle's wheels using bicycle gears. Also the wind turbine mounting tower could be rotated to better match the turbine blades to the onset wind and the wind turbine blades' pitch could be adjusted, allowing an optimal setup.

Although the Ventomobile has a low-slung streamlined body, it also has an open cockpit, so there is still room for more drag reduction and therefore better performance next time out.