Passing cars to generate energy

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The Reaper
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Passing cars to generate energy

Postby The Reaper » Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:43 pm UTC

http://www.physorg.com/news164461209.html

A new grocery store in the UK opening today will generate energy every time a customer drives into the parking lot. Sainsbury's, located in Gloucester, is the first European store to feature "Kinetic Road Plates" - thin, flexible plates that capture energy as cars drive over them.

The system is expected to produce about 30 kW of energy per hour, which is more than enough energy to power the store's checkouts. As designer Peter Hughes of Highway Energy Systems explains, as a vehicle passes over the plates, the plates are pushed down by the weight of the vehicle. The pushed plates create rocking motions under the road's surface that turn generators, which is redirected back to the store. Drivers feel no disturbance when driving over the rounded-edge plates, and the system does not affect vehicles' fuel efficiency.

"This is revolutionary, not only are we the first to use such cutting-edge technology with our shoppers, but customers can now play a very active role in helping to make their local shop greener, without extra effort or cost," said Alison Austin, Sainsbury's environment manager. "We want to continue offering great value but we also want to make the weekly shop sustainable. Using amazing technology like this helps us reduce our use of carbon and makes Sainsbury's a leading energy-efficient business."

The kinetic road plates are one of many energy-saving measures at the new Sainsbury's store. Other environmental features include harvesting rainwater to flush toilets, solar panels to heat up to 100% of the store's hot water during the summer, floor-to-ceiling windows and sun pipes in the roof to maximize natural light, automatic dimmers for electric lights, and retrieving cold air from refrigerators to keep the checkout area cool.
Now why can't our fearless leader get this stuff put on the US federal expressways? It seems like something that would make sense.

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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby Hawknc » Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:47 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:30 kW of energy per hour

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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby The Reaper » Wed Jun 17, 2009 8:59 pm UTC

Hawknc wrote:
The Reaper wrote:30 kW of energy per hour

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Oh, it was noted in the comments section. I didn't miss it. :3

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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby Duban » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:01 pm UTC

See the problem with that is that you can't create energy from nothing. There has to be some sort of equivilent energy or resistance from the car even if it means the car has to drive up 1 or 2 inches vertically. Just because its spread over 100 cars and not obviously visible for any one car doesn't mean its not there.
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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby Indon » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:06 pm UTC

I wonder how this would compare to wind energy generated by passing cars - say, by putting up little generators at the edge of the road and waiting for the wake from each car to buffet them (or for the generator to buffet the car wakes, as it were).
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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby The Reaper » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:16 pm UTC

Duban wrote:See the problem with that is that you can't create energy from nothing. There has to be some sort of equivilent energy or resistance from the car even if it means the car has to drive up 1 or 2 inches vertically. Just because its spread over 100 cars and not obviously visible for any one car doesn't mean its not there.

Maybe embed it in the pavement?

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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby Vieto » Wed Jun 17, 2009 9:20 pm UTC

Duban wrote:See the problem with that is that you can't create energy from nothing. There has to be some sort of equivilent energy or resistance from the car even if it means the car has to drive up 1 or 2 inches vertically. Just because its spread over 100 cars and not obviously visible for any one car doesn't mean its not there.


I would think this would cost cars less energy than speed bumps do... wait a second... :idea:
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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby ATCG » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:17 pm UTC

Also discussed in "Science".
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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby Godskalken » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:19 pm UTC

the system does not affect vehicles' fuel efficiency.


Liars.
It might be a good idea though, say, if you have a parking lot in the basement, to use some kind of platform to gather the energy that would otherwise go to waste if one were to drive the cars down. Although for hybrids, you'd still be stealing their energy.

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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby 3.14chan » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:21 pm UTC

Vieto wrote:
Duban wrote:See the problem with that is that you can't create energy from nothing. There has to be some sort of equivilent energy or resistance from the car even if it means the car has to drive up 1 or 2 inches vertically. Just because its spread over 100 cars and not obviously visible for any one car doesn't mean its not there.


I would think this would cost cars less energy than speed bumps do... wait a second... :idea:


Good Idea! make speed bump plants!
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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby The Reaper » Wed Jun 17, 2009 10:22 pm UTC

Here's an idea. put a whole slew of them on expressway offramps. You're slowing down anyway.

EDIT: it occurs to me, Science is about 1 hour ahead of me :( both in this original post, and my ideas. -cries-

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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby wst » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:31 pm UTC

How about we scrap the idea of cars powering stuff, and have self lighting pavements...

I mean, not very useful, but so so cool...
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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby lulzfish » Thu Jun 18, 2009 6:20 am UTC

Tasty micro-theft of kinetic energy.
It's an extremely silly thing to do, and I suspect the initial investment vs. return from a wind turbine would be just as good, and doesn't rely on the store's popularity / traffic.

But, I suspect a lot of things. I hope they did the math on this. Wind turbines are not intrusive like speed bump generators are.

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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby General_Norris » Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:47 am UTC

Let's paraphrase this in a better way.

"See, we steal energy from our costumers under a façade of being green when all we want is not paying bills"

Now seriously, thermodynamics means this should be something not very practical although very careful placement might work. Unfortunatedly I doubt there's going to be any careful placement.

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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby Hawknc » Thu Jun 18, 2009 7:53 am UTC

You steal far, far more energy from yourself when you brake to go into the supermarket than this steals from you. This is taking energy that would be wasted in the form of a speed bump or any other feature that slows a vehicle down, and putting it to good use.
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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:34 pm UTC

The Reaper wrote:Here's an idea. put a whole slew of them on expressway offramps. You're slowing down anyway.

Or, you could set them up so you go downhill when getting on the highway, and uphill when getting off. That would save ridiculous amounts of energy, reduce emissions, etc. Similarly, you could put stop signs at the top of hills, instead of the bottom. All without expensive, untested, failure-prone "kinetic road plates."

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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby Darkscull » Thu Jun 18, 2009 2:57 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
The Reaper wrote:Here's an idea. put a whole slew of them on expressway offramps. You're slowing down anyway.

Or, you could set them up so you go downhill when getting on the highway, and uphill when getting off. That would save ridiculous amounts of energy, reduce emissions, etc. Similarly, you could put stop signs at the top of hills, instead of the bottom. All without expensive, untested, failure-prone "kinetic road plates."


That makes so much sense it hurts.

Why aren't all highways/motorways built like that?
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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:11 am UTC

The added visibility (assuming the area is kept clear) from the top of the hill would be a nice benefit as well. Though if the stop signs remained at the bottom, and you lined the hills with these things where the car is slowing down anyway, that might work nicely as well.

Personally I just wonder why it isn't standard/required for stores to do some of these other things, like using rainwater in the toilets and solar water heaters.
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Re: Passing cars to generate energy

Postby silent man » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:13 pm UTC

Darkscull wrote:
Heisenberg wrote:
The Reaper wrote:Here's an idea. put a whole slew of them on expressway offramps. You're slowing down anyway.

Or, you could set them up so you go downhill when getting on the highway, and uphill when getting off. That would save ridiculous amounts of energy, reduce emissions, etc. Similarly, you could put stop signs at the top of hills, instead of the bottom. All without expensive, untested, failure-prone "kinetic road plates."


That makes so much sense it hurts.

Why aren't all highways/motorways built like that?
- It involves a whole lot of digging. They may not be particularly deep, but making a trench for every major road adds up.
- Having your roads below the average surface level of their surroundings means that rainwater, snow, rocks, garbage and just about anything else that isn't securely rooted or bolted down will tend to end up on said roads. Designing proper drainage for roads is probably tricky enough without turning them into what amounts to artificial riverbeds.


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