Machine Design

Wind-Powered Car Designed and Built by Lehigh University Students to Go for a Record

Lehigh University, www.lehigh.educ

The world record for a wind-powered car is 126.1 mph, set last year by British engineer Richard Jenkins on a stretch of the Mohave Desert near the California-Nevada border. But if engineering students at Lehigh University have their way, that record won’t stand much longer.

Their design for a “land yacht” features not sails but tall, inwardly canted wings. According to the student designers, the yacht magnifies wind speed by keeping a narrow angle between its vertical wings and the wind direction. The smaller the angle, the more speed a yacht draws from the wind. As the yacht moves, however, the wings generate a force perpendicular to the wind direction. The yacht’s wheels must counter this side force to keep the vehicle running straight. So students are busy designing tires and a suspension that will supply this counter force but not increase drag or friction enough to slow down the yacht.

The wings mount 15 ft from the main fuselage. This configuration should give pilots better aerodynamic control over pitch, roll, and yaw, the student designers say.

TAGS: Recreation
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