Windmill for your car? A young inventor tries to make it happen

(NBC) - A 12-year-old student in Pennsylvania is being praised for his inventive design for a product that could conceivably revolutionize auto making.

"There's this new idea about solar panels they're thinking about putting it on a car! And I thought if it doesn't work at night how would you work it? So then one time I came over here and I saw the windmill," said young inventor Billy Schopf.

That wind turbine sits outside the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, PA. It's where Billy met Dr. Frank Schweighardt and the sketches began of a windmill that attaches to a car to charge a solar battery at night.

That's when Billy conceived the idea of using a circulating liquid that changes thickness to keep the fan blades at the best angle but what kind?

"I looked on the internet and one of the fluids was ketchup and I said, 'I know what that is!' And I said, 'Billy, use the ketchup because I know that's a thixotropic fluid,'" said mom Karen Schopf.

The Da Vinci Center applied for and got a provisional patent.

"We did a patent search and we found nothing. Billy's concept of using the thixotropic solution, the ketchup type idea wasn't used to turn a blade," said Schweighardt.

"I was very excited. They explained how I had to make a working model. I was even more excited! I always wanted to create something, so I almost freaked out," said Billy.

The Da Vinci Science Center unveiled Billy's car turbine and it got congrats from Senators and featured in the center's fundraising campaign.

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