Wallowing in traffic seems like an enormous waste of time and resources. But what if you could generate a little power during your daily commute? A Mexican entrepreneur has developed technology that collects electricity from the movements of vehicles and pedestrians, and since the device works with existing roads and sidewalks, the system could be an excellent way to capture the forces of current transportation networks without great expense.
Developed by Héctor Ricardo Macías Hernández, the system is comprised of a polymeric material that is elevated several centimeters above street level. As cars or walkers depress the ramp, pressure is exerted on a set of bellows below. The bellows contain air that is then forced through a hose and sent to a turbine. The amount of energy capable of being harvested is proportional to the amount of cars passing over the area, so places with light traffic would need several “ramp-step” systems to generate enough juice. Similarly, the technology would be most effective with high rates of pedestrian movement, such as in a subway or shopping center.
Aside from an English patent that uses expensive piezoelectric floors, the ramp-step system is the first of its kind in the world to cheaply take advantage of traffic flow. Hernández worked closely with the Mexican Institute of Industrial Property (IMPI) to determine the viability of the project and patent his invention. Soon, freeways and walkways could do their part in sustaining the urban ecosystem through providing cheap electricity.