Are GIZMODO’s Rooftop Turbines Too Good to be True?

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The growing concern over our impact on our planets environment and the ever growing cost of fossil fuels have lead many to move to more sustainable power sources.

Electric cars have seen a massive boost in sales, with the U.S following Japan in over all plug-in electric car sales, which increased to nearly 25% of all car sales and are predicted to surpass that this year. The only downside is that in most cases car owners are still charging their cars on the grid, which receives much of its power from coal. What’s an environmentally sound consumer to do short of converting their homes to solar power? Gizmodo and their fans seems to think they have the answer.

Using the latest in 3D printing, Gizmodo is touting its new Transport Turbine as the solution to the power problem. Just strap these bad boys to the roof of your EV (Electric Vehicle) or hybrid, and let that nice breeze power your car.

When images of the product were first released, proponents of the turbines made these light weight little brothers of the massive power generating turbines out to be a fix-all that could charge your EV on the go, but it didn’t take long for the realists to begin popping holes in the blissful green bubble.

While the need to move to sustainable alternatives to our current power options is undisputed, the Transport Turbines may not be the dream product one would hope. Advertised to come in two sizes, a 25 watt version that would be able to charge an EV as long as it is traveling over 25 MPH, and the 1000 watt version that could charge a car and its internal electronic components such as GPS and entertainment systems, opponents argue that neither model would do more than extend the life of a car battery or extend your EV trip by more than a few miles.

The main argument against the use of turbines is a basic problem of physics, drag. As the wind moves through the turbines, additional drag is created. Naysayers theorize that the additional drag would all but cancel out any energy being produced by the turbines making them little more than a decoration on your vehicle. Since the products haven’t been seen in action, consumers won’t know if the product is worth the purchase until they are (hopefully) released later this year.

Regardless of what power the turbines can actually provide cars, its pretty much a sure thing that they would not have the capacity to power an EV continuously, as that would constitute a perpetual motion machine, which while incredible, is pretty much a fantasy due to the inherent loss of energy in conversion and transfer. Check out the video below for a detailed break down on energy conversion.

Of course, this is not the first time someone has tried to harness the power of the wind to power a car. In fact, Popular Science covered the story way back in 1950, when car designers were first trying to harness the wind to boost power and fuel efficiency in the British-built Rover JET1, with the US made Plymouth Belvedere following suit. The idea of conserving energy while maintaining power has long been an area of interest for car makers, though the desire for a sustainable option has become more a necessity than a fad.

Car makers worldwide are branching out and trying a variety of alternative solutions for the growing concern over the waste of natural resources and the impact of harmful carbon emissions that are the norm even with the newest gas powered cars. While these new Transport Turbines may not be the perfect solution, they are certainly a prime example of how the human imagination will be the key to solving the problem of unsustainable resources being replaced by those which are limitless; Solar and wind power.

Here’s a look at some other wonderfully weird solutions being tested around the world.

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