Good vibrations for clean energy

Here’s an interesting new twist to renewable energy. According to CNET , the state of California is seriously looking into capturing the energy emitted from road surfaces as they vibrate in reaction to the weight of vehicles passing overhead. These vibrations cause subtle wave actions that can be captured and converted into energy much like those from tidal forces and or ocean wave action. Here’s a brief summary of piezoelectric technology from the story:

“Piezoelectric generation captures energy that cars, trains, or people generate as they move across surfaces and cause vibrations. These vibrations can be harnessed and converted to energy using piezoelectric materials underneath surfaces. Electricity stored in roadside batteries could power traffic signs and signals, or on a larger scale, be fed directly into the power grid.”


Sounds like a phenomenal technology for producing clean, renewable energy to me. At the very least, it will be a productive way to put our vast network of highways to productive use by creating clean, renewable energy. Just 0.6 mile of single-lane roadway can produce enough energy to power more than 30,000 homes per year!  POWERleap’s website indicates piezoelectric technology also has beneficial applications in retail, public spaces, corporate, and entertainment venues.

Kudos should go around to all those who have experimented with this emerging technology, as well as to those policymakers in California who are now willing to give vibration energy a try outside of the laboratory. In particular, I am proud to learn that a Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company, POWERleap, is one of the leaders in this technology. It would be nice to see my home state of Michigan “leap” into this technology.

Perhaps the Beach Boys were on to something more than we first thought when they released the song “Good Vibrations” back in 1966.  In this case, they were exactly correct.

This entry was posted in Alternative energy, Cars, Environment, government, pollution, Renewable Energy and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Good vibrations for clean energy

  1. Mike Simpson says:

    0.6 of a mile is 3168 feet, if the cars on it producing these vibrations are 10 foot long Minis, and they are packed nose to tail there would be 316 of them. If each was putting out 100KW of power (They are Mini Cooper S models) that would be 31.6MW of power. Just enough for the 1KW daily average for a small house – assuming that many cars (100 in 0.6 miles would be dense traffic), near 100% efficiency (likely to be nearer 0.1%)

    Too many other things wrong with this – my brain has started to hurt – but what does 30,000 homes per year mean?


    • Rick says:

      Thank you for the comment, Mike. The post summarized information included in the CNET story. Keep in mind that the number of cars crossing the 0.6 miles stretch of pavement is nearly continuous throughtout a 24 hour period. Some very busy interstates carry more than 200,000 vehicles per day, while busy city streets probably carry 50,000+. Will look further into it.


  2. Rolf Dobelli says:

    This book deserves widespread attention for its new arguments about how energy costs affect economic growth. Robert U. Ayres and Edward H. Ayres dispel dominant energy and economic myths. They espouse making better use of existing energy until alternatives become available in about 50 years’ time. The authors’ simple proposal is cheap to implement, and modeled on existing projects now underway worldwide. While the text can be repetitive, the book challenges conventional wisdom, and identifies the regulatory and policy impediments that hinder the implementation of new approaches. getAbstract recommends this book to those seeking to recharge the discussion about energy conservation, and to Americans who want to accelerate the U.S.’s energy independence.


  3. Pingback: Piezoelectric Elements Can Turn Highways into Green Zones – Green Building Elements

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