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Lightweight Vehicle Crosses Australia using Wind Energy

21 March 2011

The Wind Explorer pilot vehicle is a two-seated electromobile that weighs just 200 kilograms and with a range of 400 kilometers per battery charge, which made international headlines with its pioneering 17-day journey across Australia in January of 2011.

The bodywork consists mainly of a carbon fibre composite with Rohacell structural foam from Essen, Germany-based Evonik Industries. Its lithium-ion batteries, based on yet another Evonik technology are charged by a mobile wind turbine orin exceptional casesin the conventional way from the power grid.

The drivers could recharge flat batteries using either a mobile wind turbine or from the grid in the usual way, depending on the wind situation. The wind turbine and a 6-meter-high telescopic bamboo mast are set up within 30 minutes. The Wind Explorer was propelled partly by parasail-style kites in addition to wind power, achieving in this way a maximum speed of about 80 kilometers per hour on the approximately 4,900-kilometer stretch from Albany on the Indian Ocean to Sydney. Only in exceptional cases did the pilots resort to electricity from conventional sources.

Lighter and further

When they built the electromobile, the duo opted for a tried-and-proven lightweight construction material: a sandwich structure of carbon-fiber fabric and a structural core of Evonik's Rohacell polymethacrylimide (PMI) rigid foam.

""Every gram of weight saved reduces CO2 emissions in conventional fuel vehicles and increases the range of the electric vehicles of the future,"" says Stefan Plass, who is responsible for Rohacell business at Evonik.





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