Nav: Home

Developing roads that can generate power from passing traffic

September 18, 2017

Researchers are looking at advanced materials for roads and pavements that could generate electricity from passing traffic.

Engineers from Lancaster University are working on smart materials such as 'piezolectric' ceramics that when embedded in road surfaces would be able to harvest and convert vehicle vibration into electrical energy.

The research project, led by Professor Mohamed Saafi, will design and optimise energy recovery of around one to two Megawatts per kilometre under 'normal' traffic volumes -- which is around 2,000 to 3,000 cars an hour.

This amount of energy, when stored, is the amount needed to power between 2,000 and 4,000 street lamps. As well as providing environmental benefits, this would also deliver significant costs savings for taxpayers.

It currently costs around 15p a kilowatt hour to power a street lamp. Therefore 2,000 to 4,000 lights can cost operators -- which in the UK tend to be local authorities, or the Highways Agency for motorways and trunk roads -- approximately between £1,800 and £3,600 per day. Researchers say the cost of installing and operating new road energy harvesting technology would be around 20 per cent of this cost.

Professor Saafi said: "This research is about helping to produce the next generation of smart road surfaces.

"We will be developing new materials to take advantage of the piezoelectric effect where passing vehicles cause stress on the road surface, producing voltage. The materials will need to withstand high strengths, and provide a good balance between cost and the energy they produce.

"The system we develop will then convert this mechanical energy into electric energy to power things such as street lamps, traffic lights and electric car charging points. It could also be used to provide other smart street benefits, such as real-time traffic volume monitoring."

When the technology has been developed it will undergo field trials in the UK and other areas of the EU.
-end-
The research forms part of the SAFERUP (Sustainable, Accessible, Safe, Resilient and Smart Urban Pavements) programme, which has been funded by the European Commission's Horizon 2020 fund and is led by the University of Bologna.

Partners on the SAFERUP project, which has received around 4M Euros funding, are TU Wien, Austria, Università degli Studi di Perugia, Italy, University of Nottingham, UK, University of Cantabria, Spain, French Institute of Sciences and Transport Technologies, France, Coventry University, UK, University College London, UK, Lancaster University, UK, Universitaet Innsbruck, Austria, Celu Eksperts, Latvia, Durth Roos Consulting GmbH, Germany and SAPABA, Italy.

Lancaster University's project on energy harvesting has received around £195,000 funding.

Lancaster University

Related Energy Articles:

Quantum vacuum: Less than zero energy
According to quantum physics, energy can be 'borrowed' -- at least for some time.
New discipline proposed: Macro-energy systems -- the science of the energy transition
In a perspective published in Joule on Aug. 14, a group of researchers led by Stanford University propose a new academic discipline, 'macro-energy systems,' as the science of the energy transition.
How much energy storage costs must fall to reach renewable energy's full potential
The cost of energy storage will be critical in determining how much renewable energy can contribute to the decarbonization of electricity.
Energy from seawater
A new battery made from affordable and durable materials generates energy from places where salt and fresh waters mingle.
Shifts to renewable energy can drive up energy poverty, PSU study finds
Efforts to shift away from fossil fuels and replace oil and coal with renewable energy sources can help reduce carbon emissions but do so at the expense of increased inequality, according to a new Portland State University study
Putting that free energy around you to good use with minuscule energy harvesters
Scientists at Tokyo Tech developed a micro-electromechanical energy harvester that allows for more flexibility in design, which is crucial for future IoT applications.
A new way to transfer energy between cells
Researchers have described a new method for the transmission of electrons between proteins that refutes the evidence from experiments until now.
Renewable energy cooperatives, an opportunity for energy transition
Three researchers from the UPV/EHU's Faculty of Engineering -- Bilbao and the University of Valladolid have explored how renewable energy cooperatives have evolved.
MIT Energy Initiative study reports on the future of nuclear energy
In new MIT report, study authors analyze the reasons for the current global stall of nuclear energy capacity and discuss measures that could be taken to arrest and reverse that trend.
Wave energy converters are not geared towards the increase in energy over the last century
Wave energy converters are designed to generate the maximum energy possible in their location and take a typical year in the location as a reference.
More Energy News and Energy Current Events

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2019.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

In & Out Of Love
We think of love as a mysterious, unknowable force. Something that happens to us. But what if we could control it? This hour, TED speakers on whether we can decide to fall in — and out of — love. Guests include writer Mandy Len Catron, biological anthropologist Helen Fisher, musician Dessa, One Love CEO Katie Hood, and psychologist Guy Winch.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#541 Wayfinding
These days when we want to know where we are or how to get where we want to go, most of us will pull out a smart phone with a built-in GPS and map app. Some of us old timers might still use an old school paper map from time to time. But we didn't always used to lean so heavily on maps and technology, and in some remote places of the world some people still navigate and wayfind their way without the aid of these tools... and in some cases do better without them. This week, host Rachelle Saunders...
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dolly Parton's America: Neon Moss
Today on Radiolab, we're bringing you the fourth episode of Jad's special series, Dolly Parton's America. In this episode, Jad goes back up the mountain to visit Dolly's actual Tennessee mountain home, where she tells stories about her first trips out of the holler. Back on the mountaintop, standing under the rain by the Little Pigeon River, the trip triggers memories of Jad's first visit to his father's childhood home, and opens the gateway to dizzying stories of music and migration. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.