Photo by striatic. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0.

Generating power from roads is apparently the new millennium's version of the search for the fountain of youth. Let's hope we're a little more successful this time. Thus far we know of contenders that want to make electricity using a three-layered solar panel instead of asphalt, by collecting the vibration of bridges or other parts of the roadways and harvesting the wind energy of passing cars. Add to these ideas a new one mentioned by the British Environmental Transport Association (ETA): a road filled with tiny piezoelectric crystals that would be smooshed with each vehicle running over it. Each smoosh generates a small electric charge, and the net effect is that just one kilometer of this piezoelectric roadway would generate 400 kilowatts, enough power up eight small cars, according to the Israeli researchers behind the plan. A test is scheduled for next month.

I can't imagine how much a road like this would cost.

[Source: ETA]


PRESS RELEASE:

New road turns traffic into electricity

A new type of road that generates electricity as traffic drives over it could mean British motorists will one day become a source of cheap power, according to green breakdown provider, the Environmental Transport Association (ETA).

The Israeli engineers behind the project claim that a 1km stretch of the power-generating asphalt will generate 400 kilowatts - enough power to run 8 small cars.

If the system was installed on every stretch of British motorway, it would generate enough energy to run 34,500 small cars.

Director at the ETA, Andrew Davis said: "The government predicts a massive shift to electric cars, and it may be that roads themselves will provide some of the new fuel - certain vehicles could be powered entirely by the roads on which they drive."

"If these electric roads can be put in place without harm to the environment they would be a silver lining to the problem of heavy traffic."

The new 'electric road' will be tested next month when engineers in Israel drive over a road embedded with tiny crystals that produce energy when 'squeezed' by passing vehicles.