Harvesting Power From Passing Trains
December 14, 2010
In recent years there have been dozens of projects seeking to harness kinetic energy as usable power (gyms that power their lights from the spinning of stationary bike, dance floors that power DJ booths, etc). All these systems use piezoelectric technology, which generates energy through pressure, stress, or vibration on surfaces. The latest in the piezoelectric energy movement comes from an Israeli group called Innowattech. The company recently released a technology that includes the installation of piezoelectric pads along railroad tracks to generate electricity as trains pass. While the company has already used such pads on highways, their new "IPEG pads" for railways are much higher in capacity, and can also determine the size of the wheel passing over and the speed of the vehicle, and efficiently harvest energy based on that information. A prototype installed last year yielded 120 kWh on a track used by 10 to 20 ten-car trains, a significant amount which could be then fed into the country's power grid.
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