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Could dynamos be installed in the wheels of an electric car to provide a perpetual source of power? © Getty Images

Could dynamos be installed in electric cars to provide a perpetual source of power?

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Kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) have been used in Formula One, but those pesky laws of physics get in the way of this being workable.

Asked by: Ayyappan Perumalsamy, Chennai, India

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We already recover power from the wheels of some cars when slowing. Kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) have been used in Formula One racing to store energy in a flywheel when braking, and then push it back to the wheels later for a boost in speed. Electric cars often use regenerative braking, which converts the speed of the wheels into electrical power to recharge the battery. These systems are a great way to increase efficiency, but like everything in the Universe, they are not 100 per cent efficient. Sadly, the laws of physics prohibit the existence of true perpetual motion, so it’s the best we can do.

How environmentally friendly are electric cars? © Getty Images

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Authors

Dr Peter Bentley is a computer scientist and author who is based at University College London. He is the author of books including 10 Short Lessons in Artificial Intelligence and Robotics and Digital Biology: How nature is transforming our technology and our lives.

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