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Thread: Electricity generation in transportation infrastructure

  1. #1

    Electricity generation in transportation infrastructure


    I've been hearing recently about two methods of passively generating electricity from transportation infrastructure:

    - Locating low wind turbines along highways to capture the wind generated by oncoming traffic.

    - Installing devices within street roadbeds that capture the kinetic energy of passing cars (installed on downhill stretches only, of course).

    Apparently these ideas have already had limted tested in the field: the highway wind turbines in Germany, and the roadbed devices in Canada. It's just hearsay to me at this point, though. I was curious if anyone here had heard of these things and had more information.

    Last edited by Gedunker; 22 Nov 2006 at 4:39 PM.

  2. #2
    Interesting...I've never heard of such.
    I'm no engineer but it seems either of those methods would have some small impact on vehicle efficiency.
    #1 might slow the column of air along a roadway, reducing the drafting effect of vehicles.
    #2 might use some type of flexible roadbase, which could increase the rolling resistance of vehicles.
    On the other hand, roadways are often located parallel to topographic bluffs, which are used for wind generation too. So maybe highway ROWs could be useful for real estate and ecological revenue generation?

  3. #3
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
    Oct 2005
    I could see low wind turbines at tunnels and underpasses in windy areas which "tunnel" the wind through the underpasses. The vehicles will provide some wind but in areas suchs as Chicago the constant wind will also provide power. Some low wind turbines I've read of can operate in as low as 10-14 MPH winds.

    But if we can't even get turbines on hillsides and off Martha's Vinyard I don't see how we can in the roadsystem yet.

  4. #4
    Oct 2006
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I have heard of the second example being used as a pilot project at toll interchanges in the United States (although I can't remember exactly where). If successful, I can see these systems becoming a viable contributor to the growing pool of alternative energy sources.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
    Mar 2004
    Where the weak are killed and eaten.
    Try hooking up with this guy. You will have a lot to talk about, he is using solar power and manfucaturing rocket fuel in the middle of the freeway to power 200 mph trains that you can park your car on, and take your car into downtown detroit (then spend $20 to park it!)


  6. #6
    One of the students in the class I'm TA-ing sent me this a link on the highway wind turbine idea:

    New Twist on Vehicle-to-Grid: Tapping the Wind Force of Traffic
    9 August 2005
    Raising the anemometers.

    Students at Centennial College in Canada are investigating the potential for using the wind generated by the high volumes of high-speed traffic on Highway 401—Canada’s busiest highway—to drive wind turbines to generate electricity.

    A research team has erected three anemometers on a 30-meter tower to measure the force and speed of the wind adjacent to the 16-lane highway.

    Collected data will be used to determine the amount of available wind energy, so that the college and its partners can put up an appropriately-sized wind turbine that will feed electricity into the local power grid.

    The viability project has been led by Centennial Environmental Protection Technology students Matt Vonarburg and Dave Clark, whose initial findings were reviewed and approved by Toronto Hydro engineers.

    If all goes well, the site will be prepared for the installation of a full-scale wind turbine as early as the summer of 2006. Centennial intends to augment the wind-powered generator with other alternate energy sources, such as solar panels and biofuel electrical generators.

    All of these technologies are being considered to support a renewable-energy college program which is in development. The post-secondary program will deal with the issues facing the electricity generation industry, and will train students how to install, service and maintain equipment involved with renewable energy technologies, such as wind turbines and photovoltaic solar panels.

    Unfortunately, Cyburbia won't let me post a hyperlink until I've made five posts, so here's the address in a more broken-down format:

    www -dot- greencarcongress -dot- com /2005/08/new_twist_on_ve.html

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