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In the future, fetching your burgers and fries via the drive-thru might mean helping the store you're patronizing keep the lights on. In more ways than one. Over the Labor Day weekend, a Burger King in Hillside, New Jersey tried out the MotionPower energy harvester from New Energy Technologies to see how it would hold up to the heavy traffic flow they experienced over the holiday period. As drivers wended their way to the window to get their Whoppers, the cars ran over a metal speed-bump affair that, using the weight of the vehicles to depress a plate and turn some gears, produced 2000 watts with each passing. As it was just an initial durability test, the fast food franchise didn't actually benefit from the "free" electrons but customers were treated to a very small light show that was installed to demonstrate the that system was working. The manufacturer envisions larger MotionPower machines installed in places where traffic is slowing down to prevent the scheme from requiring extra energy input from vehicles.

If you're intrigued by this device (or the similar Dragon Power Station) and missed the chance to check it out in Jersey, you may be interested to know that they will next be collecting kinetic energy at the Four Seasons in Washington, DC and at the Holiday Inn Express in Baltimore. Hit the jump for a video from Fox News featuring the device as well as the press release.

[Source: New Energy Technologies]







PRESS RELEASE:

New Energy's Technology for Generating Electricity from Movement of Cars Tested at Burger King®

First-ever field tests of MotionPower™ device validate Company's strategies for engineering, materials, and technology deployment; Further testing at Four Seasons Washington, DC and Holiday Inn® Express.

Burtonsville, MD - September 8, 2009 - New Energy Technologies, Inc. (Symbol: NENE), a next-generation alternative and renewable energy developer, today announced that engineers have successfully conducted the first-ever durability field-tests of the Company's prototyped MotionPower™ technology for generating electricity from the motion of cars and light trucks -- a key step in optimizing New Energy's MotionPower™ technology for commercial launch.

Durability testing was conducted at quick-service giant, Burger King's, prominent franchise restaurant in the New York Metro area in Hillside, New Jersey throughout the busy Labor Day weekend from September 3rd to September 7th. The Burger King® franchise is owned and operated by entrepreneurs, Mr. Drew Paterno and Mr. Michael Wallstein.
"It would be great to generate clean electricity by mechanically capturing the kinetic energy of the 100,000-plus cars that drive through our Hillside store alone each year," stated entrepreneur and Burger King franchise owner, Mr. Drew Paterno. "If the MotionPower™ device works and does what we think it will do, we'd be interested in installing it in all our locations."

New Energy's MotionPower™ technology is designed to be installed in locations where hybrid, next-generation electrical, and conventional fuels-driven vehicles decelerate or stop, thus ensuring that vehicles are not 'robbed' of energy they would otherwise use to accelerate. Instead, MotionPower™ devices actually assist vehicles in slowing down, and in the process of doing so, capture the vehicles' motion energy before it is lost as brake heat, and creatively convert that energy into clean 'green' electricity.
"We've had a favorable response to our MotionPower™ technology from the marketplace and from those who generated electricity by driving their cars over our device. We're keen to aggressively commercialize our technology and have designed each phase of our testing to help move us towards this goal," explained Mr. Meetesh Patel, Esq., President and CEO of New Energy Technologies, Inc.

"For example, we undertook our durability tests during the busy Labor Day long weekend at a high-traffic site that's typical of our installation target market," Mr. Patel continued. "The early data we've acquired from these Phase 1 tests of our first prototype for cars and light trucks validates our engineering approach, materials selection strategy, and product deployment plans – all very important factors in developing a commercially successful first-of-its kind technology for generating clean electricity from the motion of vehicles."

In addition to tests conducted at Burger King®, engineers are undertaking additional durability testing of New Energy's prototyped mechanical MotionPower™ system for cars and light trucks in the upcoming weeks at the Four Seasons Washington, DC and at the Holiday Inn Express® Baltimore.


MotionPower™: Practical, 'Green' Energy Harvesting

Designed as a roadway-based system for installation where vehicles are required to decelerate or stop, MotionPower™ technology assists vehicles in slowing down, and in the process of doing so, captures the slowing vehicles' motion (kinetic) energy before it is lost as brake heat, and creatively converts that energy into clean, 'green' electricity.

As millions of vehicles slow or come to a stop at toll plazas, rest areas, traffic calming areas drive-thrus, and countless other roadway points, their motion energy, derived from the burning of fossil fuels, is dissipated in brakes and lost as heat to the environment. New Energy's MotionPower™ devices use this lost energy to generate electricity.

MotionPower™ devices make use of the energy wasted by these millions of cars, trucks, and heavy vehicles when they slow down or come to a full stop countless times throughout the day, and convert this otherwise wasted energy into valuable, clean electricity.

Once fully optimized and installed, engineers anticipate that MotionPower™ devices may be used to augment or replace conventional electrical supplies for powering roadway signs, street and building lights, storage systems for back-up and emergency power, and other electronics, appliances, and even devices used in homes and businesses.

To-date, New Energy has filed nine new patent applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in order protect novel features of its MotionPower™ technology for generating electricity from the kinetic energy of moving vehicles.


About New Energy Technologies, Inc.
New Energy Technologies, Inc., together with its wholly owned subsidiaries, is a developer of next generation alternative and renewable energy technologies. Among the Company's technologies under development are:

* MotionPower™ roadway systems for generating electricity by capturing the kinetic energy produced by moving vehicles. An estimated 250 million registered vehicles drive more than 6 billion miles on America's roadways, every day; and

* SolarWindow™ technologies which enable transparent glass windows to generate electricity by coating their glass surfaces with the world's smallest known solar cells. These solar coatings are less than 1/10th the thickness of 'thin' films and make use of the world's smallest functional solar cells, shown to successfully produce electricity in a recently published peer-reviewed study in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy of the American Institute of Physics.

Through established relationships with universities, research institutions, and commercial partners, we strive to identify technologies and business opportunities on the leading edge of renewable energy innovation. Unique to our business model is the use of established research infrastructure owned by the various institutions we deal with, saving us significant capital which would otherwise be required for such costs as land and building acquisition, equipment and capital equipment purchases, and other start up expenses. As a result, we are able to benefit from leading edge research while employing significantly less capital than conventional organizations.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      The speed bump / power device at the Burger King in New Jersey is the silliest technology I have ever seen and I am amazed that so many people praise it or write uncritically that it provides free power. Energy is never free, it comes from somewhere. In this case, the energy is actually stolen from the car. The electricity power produced is equal to or less than the extra power the car has to expend going over the bump.

      This electricity might be "free" if it is used where cars are braking anyway, say on a long down ramp in a parking garage, or on a suburban street or school zone where speed bumps already exist. But the Burger King example, and in fact most of the examples I have seen of this installation, are just vampiric theft, very similar to what the US Government does in many of its programs, creating a large benefit for a single user and hoping that distributing the costs in small chunks across a wide number of people makes these costs invisible.

      I wrote more about the technology here: http://www.coyoteblog.com/coyote_blog/tag/vampiric-power
        • 5 Years Ago
        "This electricity might be "free" if it is used where cars are braking anyway, say on a long down ramp in a parking garage, or on a suburban street or school zone where speed bumps already exist."

        That's what they are saying! You HAVE to stop anyway! You WANT to get rid of your excess energy to slow down or stop.

        It is NOT STEALING if the energy would have gone to heat up your brakes.

        But I need to make it very clear, that it is a fine line between effective and wasteful. If you need to stop at the menu, the cashier window, and the pickup window, then have a bunch of these lined up just before the stop is needed. People must then accelerate a bit from the menu to the windows, each time using energy that would otherwise be unrecoverable and lost to brake heat.

        *** But if you don't need to stop and want to drive past, it is wasteful. That is why it is very important to know exactly how the cars are coming through all the time (see earlier post regarding brake light sensors and actuators that flatten the paddles when not intending to slow a vehicle)

        In regards to whether to be above ground or below... cost prohibits digging, permits, and labor intensive installs. It should be a few inches above ground but the incline should only happen once in the drive-thru. Meaning, not many sets of speedbumps but rather one platform that you drive onto which has many paddles (connected to gears, or hydraulics to power a generator). Kinda like driving over a cattle gate only a bit smoother.

        The intent is to eventually have a system that decelerate a car several mph (~20) over several feet and uses that energy to power things.

        But if you drive a hybrid or an EV, YES, you are being stolen from. Because you can already reclaim braking energy via your batteries.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Okay, I see the problem here. My internet connection was so slow that the picture did not load and the video still wont load.

      The single paddle is not enough to slow the cars to a stop. You may only take a couple mph away with that flimsy thing. And such a small reduction of speed (AKA kinetic energy) would not be anything. However, as this is just a durability test, the production model should be several of these lined up in series to bring the vehicle to a stop.

      My idea (perhaps thought of already by others) would be a set of rumble strips that would take away approximately 20 mph from the average car.

      With that setup, you can get up to 16 kilowatt-hours per 100,000 cars (one Burger King year). Much better for stoplights I think.



      But the concept is sound! It is like turning any car into a hybrid. Of course, if you drive a hybrid, your advantage is stolen from the device. But it could not steal energy from regular cars that are REQUIRED to waste thier energy as brake heat when they stop at a stoplight or drive-thru.

      People really don't understand how much energy is in a moving car (even at only 20 mph) until they are hit by one... or unless they drive a hybrid that gets so much better MPG simply because it can capture that braking power.
      • 5 Years Ago
      that's cool
      • 5 Years Ago
      Nitpick: watts is a measure of power, so you can't extract "2000 watts" from each vehicle passing. That's like saying "I recovered 3 horsepower from each vehicle passing". It makes no sense. What you might say is that they recovered 2000 watt-hours (unlikely) or 2000 joules, both of which are measures of energy, rather than power output.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Oh how I love mathematics ... wish I was better at it, but here goes. To expand on the point that 'Nerdo' and 'GoodCheer' are making, let's be generous and say that the 2000-W peak lasts for a duration of 1 second (1 / 3600th of an hour), for a total energy recovery of (2-kW * (1/3600 hours) = 5.55e-4 kWh). Now a quote from a BK rep in the article states that approximately 100,000 cars drive through their Hillside store in one year's time, making the total energy recovery of the system roughly (5.55e-4 kWh per vehicle * 100,000 vehicles per year = 55.5 kWh per year). I'm not sure what small business owners pay for electricity, but let's use an often-quoted average cost of $0.10 per kWh for a total savings of (55.5 kWh per year * 0.10 dollars per kWh = $5.55 per year).

        Wow .... this is really going to change the world.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Just what I was going to say.

        The Fox News report says "produces 2000 Watts instantaneously" which seems reasonably believable, but of course each paddle is only in motion for a fraction of a second... maybe .25 seconds?

        So the amount of energy produced would be 500 Watt-seconds, or ~0.14Wh.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Go check the comments of the engadget article on this, we ran gobs and gobs of figures on this thing. The practical upshot is it will generate only a few dollars worth of electricity per year and thus will most certainly wear out before it pays for itself (assuming it costs $1,000 or more to build and install).

      Not to mention that when placed right there, it is most definitely not in an area of braking and is stealing whatever money it does make right out of your gas tank.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's still theft - they should say that you paid a bit towards your burger with what would have been energy your car wasted as heat. Also it's surely nothing more than a greenwash - I mean that sign says 'Burger King restaurants and MotionPower are on the road to clean energy'.. CLEAN ENERGY? Not many scenarios in which that energy they recovered would be considered clean at source?!
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's harvesting the energy from the car motor to power the car over the speed bump... less the inherent inefficiency in converting from gasoline to mechanical and from mechanical back to electrical. And since electrical is used to refine the more portable but less efficient gasoline in the first place it seems like a pretty counter-productive energy loop. Maybe if the bump were somehow stopping the car rather than the driver using the brake? That seems like a stretch for a machine cost/benefit though since regenerative braking isn’t even in common use ON the cars now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      By using this device, BK is offsetting a small amount of electricity which was generated at a centralized power plant (in what we can assume is a relatively efficient manner) with the same amount generated by a 1968 Ford Bronco with a 302 V8 and no emissions controls.

      That seems like a win for the environment.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Fascinating.

      Remember this, readers of this article: Energy must come from somewhere. In the case of this Burger King, where is it coming from?

      Burger King isn't taking this extra energy from the wind. They aren't taking it from the ground. They aren't taking it from the sun. So, where is the energy coming from?

      Unbeknownst to the drive thru customers, the energy is actually coming from the gas tank of each car that drives over the speed bump.

      How does this work? Burger King is forcing the cars to work against gravity by ascending the speed bump. This converts the car's fuel energy into a little bit of gravitational potential energy. Then, by way of springs and gears contained in the high-tech speed bump, this gravitational energy is converted into electrical energy.

      At any rate, it is the gas in the tank of the drive thru customers that is paying for Burger King's light bill. Is Burger King giving drive thru customers a discount for this courtesy? Probably not, and I'm doubtful that Burger King will explain it. But, I think drive thru customers should at least be aware of it.

      ---Tom Nally, New Orleans (Structural Engineer)
        • 5 Years Ago
        "So you would rather turn that energy into brake dust????"

        That point actually has merit!

        But in order for me to support the technology, I would need to know that the speed bumps are actually a partial substitute for the the use of brakes, rather than merely being additional to the same braking energy that's always used anyway.

        It is certainly plausible that the speed bumps are finding a use for energy that is otherwise being thrown into an energy sink. But has anyone determined whether the drivers are actually braking less? Is Burger King even interested in determining whether the drivers are braking less?

        While still being less than fully persuaded, I admit that there are a set of conditions -- perhaps a narrow set -- under which the technology can benefit the restaurant without harming the customer.

        ---Tom Nally, New Orleans








        • 5 Years Ago
        "Burger King is forcing the cars to work against gravity by ascending the speed bump."

        So you would rather turn that energy into brake dust????

        Either way, your going to have to stop!!!

        Otherwise, can you pay and grab your value meal while coasting past the window?

        ***and as always, if you drive a hybrid, yes, it is stealing.
      • 5 Years Ago
      What an absolute WASTE!
      1) Wasted energy from all of the conversions: from gasoline to kinetic energy of the car to potential energy of the elevated car to electric energy.
      2) Wasted capital by using gasoline (processed from foreign oil) as the energy source.
      3) Waste of the environment by using highly polluting, poorly maintained vehicles.

      Anyone who thinks this is a good idea has no grasp of physics.
      • 5 Years Ago
      yeah it's stupid. it has merit in a limited sense if it's installed only the places where people brake otherwise so they don't have to brake. provided they understand that and the car doesn't come to a halt so they have to speed up again and waste more energy.

      and even in that use it loses merit when cars have regen braking.
      it's an amusing system but should not be done and certainly not be considered as having green potential. other than maybe raise awareness but perhaps the wrong awareness.
      I've seen people very seriously suggesting this on highways as if that would provide all the clean energy we would need...
      • 5 Years Ago
      Seriously - why not employ this where people actually have to stop? As in a high delta of speed on a highway with stop signs/lights? ABG should step up and inform Burger King on the law of energy conservation vs posting a story saying how great this new application of a MotionPower product is. This must not become a franchise standard. It will actually push us backwards vs forward in any green movement.

      A better drive through technology would be to employ a 'magic carpet' (or car wash conveyor system) drive through powered soley on solar power from PV's on the BK roof. The customer would enter the drive through line and shut off their car prior to making their order. The magic carpet would start at the giant menu. Then they BK would be actually help the reduction of CO2 into the air with their line of cars around their building no longer idling but moving along with ignitions in the OFF position. That is saving energy. Engine off - movement powered by PV electric power.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Even better, a mechanical gizmo with no moving parts called a SLIGHT INCLINE. The magic mystical force of Gravity moves your car through the drive-thru lane! Stop-start cars will shut off automatically and hybrids will recapture some energy from braking.

        It'll never happen because American drivers are litigious idiots who'll sue and claim the incline caused their collision in the drive-thru while they were yakking on a cellphone. But nor will your magic conveyor.
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