• Apr 29th 2008 at 8:46PM
  • 24
There seems no end to the different ways one can generate pollution-free electricity but we try to cover them all. From the not-so-ready-for-prime-time free-energy devices and solar paint to the most current statements in piezing dresses. (Get it? Current? Electricity? Dresses? Ok, nevermind.) We've even looked at the possibilities of roads before but this time we're not talking solar or wind, we're talking kinetics.

Terry Kenney had a dream one night about a device in the road that would harvest the energy from the vehicles driving over it. It took eight years of work and perseverance to bring it to the light of day but using parts sourced from all over the world and a cooperative customer in the form of Port of Oakland terminal operator, SSA, his clean electricity-making "Dragon Power Station" is fait accompli. According to an article at New American Media, as trucks pass over plates embedded in the asphalt "they compress a tank of hydraulic fluid under the road, which in turn creates a series of pumping actions that turns a generator to produce electricity." By next month Kenney expects it to produce 5,000 to 7,000 kilowatt-hours every day. That's enough to power 1,750 homes! The story is not going to end there either. The "Dragon" is being installed in some other prime locations and Kenney has deals-a-plenty on the horizon. Click on "Read" for the entire heartwarming story.

[Source: New American Media]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Months Ago
      Energy theft?

      Think about it. When you are driving over the road, where do you think the vibrations go? Into the ground. So instead of letting the energy just dump into the ground, we can harness some of it.

      Obviously it's not the greatest source of energy because we're just recovering lost energy in transportation, but it's a great start.

      If it's relatively cheap to make and maintain, seems like a good idea to me.
      • 8 Months Ago
      "..Same thing for the Brum idea: it would add to the pollution.."

      How so? I already riuled out situations in which additional energy input would be required, and was suggesting only doing it in positions where braking is currently essential - ie where energy is at present being wastefully dissipated.

      I totally agree with the rest of your post.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Maybe we can recover enough net energy gain to power the CFL lightbulbs the accountants use when calculating the astronomical costs of this project, but probably not.
      • 7 Years Ago
      They could equip hybrids with RFIDs that temporarily disable the device as they pass over.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I wonder how much energy is created by the movement of one car...
      • 7 Years Ago
      I am all for it and was advocating this form of 'Tidal Power' years ago when I lived in Birmingham, UK. That city is a hundred miles from the sea, but tens of thousands of vehicles head into the city on a dozen radial routes every moning, and out again every evening. Milking that tide is well worth considering - and the same in every other city (except the dead flat ones).

      Clearly it has to be done in positions where - as mentioned here already - there is no ADDITIONAL energy input required from the vehicle. Such as on downward hills (reducing the amount of braking needed), and on approaches to junctions where traffic already has to halt or slow down.

      Also there are many urban and suburban streets where the 'traffic-calming' measures include anti-speed bumps across the highway. These at present have the bad effect of requiring additional motive force to overcome them - and should therefore perhaps be discouraged. But if the wretched things are going to exist at all, and are going to require extra energy in driving up over them, why not at least make the bumps from something which recoups some of that energy?
      • 8 Months Ago
      "it may provide electricity- but it does so at reduced fuel efficiency for all the trucks that drive on the plates." At 15mph, these trucks are getting a whopping 2-3 mpg. So, they go down to 2 - 2.9 mpg?
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's my energy. I paid for the gas to get up to speed. If I want to be wise and buy a car that helps me recover the energy, that's great, cause it's mine.

      As to not using the regenerative braking, you don't have a choice in a Prius or any other hybrid. If you hit the brakes, it puts on the regen brakes, unless you hit the brakes too hard or once you get below like 10mph regen braking doesn't really work.
      • 7 Years Ago

      Pfft.. it only works because he's reducing the efficiency of the vehicles driving over the plates.

      it may provide electricity- but it does so at reduced fuel efficiency for all the trucks that drive on the plates.

      • 7 Years Ago
      I agree, put 'em on the downhill side of the street.
      • 7 Years Ago
      if it is on a downhill stretch I can see it working, otherwise it is energy theft (law of the conservation of energy anybody?). As I don't see anything in that article to indicate that it is on a downhill stretch the man is actually increasing pollution and using a highly inefficient method (the internal combustion engine through an inefficient transfer mechanism) for creating his energy.

      Same thing for the Brum idea: it would add to the pollution.
      • 8 Months Ago
      I think this works by using the weight of the truck to compress the hydraulic fluid. So if anything, the energy stolen would be whatever it takes to lift the load the inch or so that the generator uses. The braking issue would only work if the generator used a slipping plate or some other way to transfer forward motion to compression energy. Of course if this is a big steel plate in the road, that means it needs a spring return or something to raise it back to road level additionally wasting energy, since that energy to compress the spring can't be captured.

      I like the speed bump idea, make it compressible and send that to an accumulator to spin a turbine. You could use the energy to run a flashing light to warn about the speed bump.
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