Saturday, July 17, 2010

Roadway Power Plant

This is a concept to capture some of the massive kinetic energy of trucks and cars trundling across our nation's roadways.  There would be two spans of road that could swivel up and down perhaps a few inches; a small enough distance to be unobtrusive to drivers, but a large enough distance to drive underground pistons into a cylinder to compress air.  The pressurized air would turn a Wells turbine that would spin an electric generator.

Springs would be attached to the pistons, calibrated to push the road back up to its equilibrium position with optimal time to complete the power stroke and catch the next passing vehicle. (Other variables in this optimization would be the speed limit of the highway, the length of the road-spans, and the operating pressure of the turbine.) 

During the upward travel, the pistons would be pulling air in the opposite direction - thus the need for the Wells turbine, which is a little less efficient than other turbines, but spins in the same direction regardless of the path of its driving fluid.  (This type of turbine is used in Wave generators, which have a similar oscillatory/periodic power source.)

Several such power plants could be installed in high-traffic areas like bridges (which may be readily adaptable to such a design), or in high kinetic-energy areas like the bottom of a long hill.  To maximize traffic, it may be desirable to integrate with dedicated express lanes that are changed from inbound to outbound flow to coincide with a city's rush hour.

CATEGORY: Transportation, Energy
IDEATION: September 1, 2009

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