Photos via Greenbird
Out in the Nevada desert, the stunning Greenbird just shattered the world speed record for a vehicle powered solely by wind. Richard Jenkins, the vehicle's designer and driver, brought the Greenbird up to speeds of 126.1 mph on a desert cruise yesterday. He sailed past the previous record of 116 mph, and into history with his innovative, sailboat-like vehicle. And what might be most amazing of all, is how he did it.
Jenkins, who hails from England, describes the Greenbird as a "very high performance sailboat," according to the BBC. The wind powered car is made almost completely of carbon fiber composite. He's been working on the vehicle for over 10 years now, his long term goal to break both land and ice speed records set by wind-only vehicles.
So how does the car work? Here's a (very) basic summary:
Due to the shape of the craft, especially at such high speeds, the wings also provide lift; a useful trait for an aircraft, but very hazardous for a car. To compensate for this, the designers have added small wings to "stick" the car to the ground, in the same way Formula 1 cars do.
When the vehicle is operating, thanks to the effects of the wings, the usually-1,320 lb car weighs over a ton.
According to the Greenbird website,
"The crafts are elegant, sophisticated and futuristic - but are based on familiar aeronautical, sailing and wind technology principles. They use solid sails, much like an aircraft wing. The crafts' design achieves staggering efficiency. It enables the land craft to travel at between 3 & 5 times the real wind speed, depending on the surface traction."
Now that he's set the new world wind-only land speed record (and confident no one will come close to besting it any time soon), Jenkins is setting his sights on the ice record—which could see him going even faster. We'll be watching.