Powering an alternative roadside attraction
An Israeli start-up comes up with a way to generate electricity from road traffic -- enough of it to power road signs along the way.
Wed, Oct 07, 2009 at 05:14 PM
Illustration courtesy of Innowwattech
Innowattech is touting what they call, “parasitic energy harvesting,” a system that exploits the motion of vehicles rolling over sturdy, flexible pads buried beneath the roadway. Company officials say their technology also works on airport runways, railway tracks and pedestrian sidewalks.
The company says their patented piezoelectric generators produce “energy from weight, motion, vibration and temperature changes.”
Officials recently announced the breakthrough after road trials in collaboration with Israel's National Roads Company and Haifa's Technion Israel Institute of Technology.
After successful tests along a small segment of a thoroughfare along the Mediterranean coast, the Ra'anana-based start-up plans to expand the testing areas to several one-kilometer stretches of the country's major coastal highways in the Tel Aviv area – a daily locus of traffic snarls in the New Jersey-sized country.
"The success of the trial this week is an important milestone in the breakthrough of this technology. We live in a small country with a significant advantage in research and know-how, compared with many countries in the world that are seeking ways to conserve energy that is being wasted," said Israel National Roads CEO Alex Viznitzer.
Innowwattech developers said the technology, which is based on piezoelectric materials, converts mechanical energy generated from a vehicle's weight into electricity.
“Drivers feel no change in the road. Regular vehicle traffic can generate 2,000 watts per hour. The electricity is accumulated in batteries placed along the side of the road," according senior technologist and project manager Dr. Lucy Edery-Azulay in a report from Israel's Globes-online.com, an Israeli English-language business journal, on Oct. 5, 2009.
Company officials say a strong point of their system is that power production ramps up exactly when it's most needed: during peak morning and afternoon traffic.