August 15, 2016

How freeways can provide electrical power

Eco Watch

Energy conservation is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about freeways jammed with idling vehicles.

But in California, which has some of the most congested freeways in the country, that's about to change. The California Energy Commission has approved a pilot program in which piezoelectric crystals will be installed on several freeways.

Piezoelectric crystals, about the size of watch batteries, give off an electrical discharge when they're mechanically stressed, such as when a vehicle drives over them. Multiply that by thousands of vehicles and it creates an electric current that can be harvested to feed the grid.

In fact, scientists estimate the energy generated from piezoelectric crystals on a 10-mile stretch of freeway could provide power for the entire city of Burbank (population: more than 105,000).

Piezoelectric-based energy-harvesting technology is already being used in other countries. Since 2009, all the displays in the East Japan Railway Company's Tokyo station have been powered by people walking on the piezoelectric flooring. Italy has signed a contract that will install this technology in a portion of the Venice-to-Trieste Autostrada. Israel is already using this technology on some highways, which is how Gatto got the idea for the pilot program in California. A friend returning from a trip to Israel raved about a road that produced energy.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Another half baked idea that reveals the very limited knowledge of physics on the part of legislators. The first law of physics is one doesn't get something for nothing. All this project does is transfer the potential energy from the gasoline to electricity. A considerably more efficient method is to use the oil from which the gasoline is made to directly "make" electricity at a power station. What the 'bile is doing is transferring the energy from climbing the flexible road to the piezo-electric device. Much more efficient is to make the road less flexible so the 'biles' efficiency is increased. Whether the road is flexible or not one may increase vehicle efficiency simply by increasing the tires' pressure. The tyre's flexing is the same loss method as the road's flexing. Furthermore, a less flexible road (e.g. concrete) on a hard base will be more durable making a further saving. These purveyors of road electricity are simply scammers preying on the gullibility of the ignorant.