Britons bid to blow away world speed record
Thursday 21 August 2008
Two Britons are preparing an attempt to smash the world speed record for a wind-powered vehicle.
Eco-businessman Dale Vince OBE and engineer Richard Jenkins hope to smash the current record of 116.7mph on their wind-powered craft The Greenbird out on the salt flats of Australia's Lake Lefroy.
The duo describe The Greenbird as "a highly-evolved vehicle" that uses a combination of technology found on aircraft and Formula 1 cars to achieve "staggering" speeds without engine power.
The chosen name is a nod to Donald Campbell's Bluebird, a fuel-powered car which achieved record speeds in the 1960s.
Mr Vince, managing director of environmental energy firm Ecotricity, said: "We are coming to the end of the age of fossil fuels and the dawn of the age of renewables and The Greenbird symbolises this historical watershed better than anything else."
He added: "Cars of the future won't be running on fossil fuels they will be running on renewable sources of energy like the wind.
"And with today's technology we can achieve incredible speeds, using only wind power."
Mr Vince became involved in the Greenbird project through his Gloucestershire-based company - which builds wind turbines and has sold "green" electricity across the country since 1996.
The Greenbird craft is a culmination of 10 years work, thousands of man hours and five prototype vehicles, he said.
Engineer Mr Jenkins said: "We wanted to develop a purely technical solution that would deliver ultimate performance from a free and available resource - the wind.
"After 10 years I now have the right vehicle, in the right part of the world with the right team in support. We now just need the weather to cooperate."
Lake Lefroy is 50km south of Kalgoorlie, a former gold-mining town in Western Australia, around one hour's flight from Perth.
The team believe it to be the best natural surface on earth on which to attempt such a record.
The vehicle arrived at Lake LeFroy for testing on Friday. The team will go on record standby towards the end of this month and start of next month.
The current world wind powered speed record of 116.7mph was achieved on March 20 1999 in Prim, Nevada, USA, by Bob Schumacher in Iron Duck.
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