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:

Wave energy researchers dive deep to advance clean energy source
One of the biggest untapped clean energy sources on the planet -- wave energy -- could one day power millions of homes across the US.
A new energy source within the cells
Scientists at the Centre for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, Spain, find evidence of a new energy source within cell nucleus.
MIT Energy Initiative welcomes Exelon as member for clean energy research
MIT Energy Initiative announces that national energy provider Exelon joins MITEI as a member to focus research support through MITEI's Low-Carbon Energy Centers.
Clean energy from water
Fuel cells generate electrical energy through a chemical reaction of hydrogen and oxygen.
Determinant factors for energy consumption and perception of energy conservation clarified
Change in lifestyle is a key component to realizing a low-carbon society.
Lactate for brain energy
Nerve cells cover their high energy demand with glucose and lactate.
Evidence shows low energy sweeteners help reduce energy intake and body weight
Use of low energy sweeteners (LES) in place of sugar, in children and adults, leads to reduced calorie intake and body weight - and possibly also when comparing LES beverages to water -- according to a review led by researchers at the University of Bristol published in the International Journal of Obesity today.
ASU professor honored for work on energy and social aspects of energy policy
Martin 'Mike' Pasqualetti, an Arizona State University professor and an expert on energy and social components of energy development, will be awarded 2015 Alexander and Ilse Melamid Memorial Medal by the American Geographical Society.
Stanford's Global Climate and Energy Project awards $9.3 million for energy research
GCEP has awarded scientists at Stanford and four other universities funding to develop a suite of promising energy technologies.
Energy efficiency upgrades ease strain of high energy bills in low-income families
Low-income families bear the brunt of high-energy costs and poor thermal comfort from poorly maintained apartment buildings.

Related Energy Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#532 A Class Conversation
This week we take a look at the sociology of class. What factors create and impact class? How do we try and study it? How does class play out differently in different countries like the US and the UK? How does it impact the political system? We talk with Daniel Laurison, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Swarthmore College and coauthor of the book "The Class Ceiling: Why it Pays to be Privileged", about class and its impacts on people and our systems.