Timon Singh

Piezoelectric Energy-Generating Roads Proposed for California

by , 02/14/11

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We are big fans of piezoelectricity here at Inhabitat — it essentially transforms kinetic energy into electrical current, and it can be implemented in a wide number of systems ranging from energy-generating railways to electronic circuits that recycle wasted heat. Now Californian Assemblyman Mike Gatto has proposed a new bill that would see the implementation of piezoelectric technology in the Golden State’s roads using systems that are already in use in Italy and Israel. The technology could produce as much as 44 megawatts of electricity per year from one single-lane, one-kilometer stretch of roadway — enough to power 30,800 homes for a year.

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California is renowned for its miles and miles of highway, but Assemblyman Gatto believes that all that asphalt can be put to good use. He proposes that the state finance systems that would capture energy as automobiles move along a stretch of pavement. This energy could then be directed into the electric grid.

By placing cheap piezoelectric sensors underneath a road, the vibrations produced by vehicles would be converted into electricity, powering simple systems such as signs and lights.

“A major source of renewable energy is right beneath our feet — or, more accurately, our tires. California is the car capitol of the world. It only makes sense to convert to electricity the energy lost as cars travel over our roads,” said Assemblyman Gatto. His bill would require Californians to use existing funds, which are already set aside by AB 118, Chapter 750, Statutes of 2007, to run two pilot projects with the new piezoelectric technology. Gatto proposes that one be held in Northern California while the other is done in Southern California.

“Caltrans could sell the power to local businesses and use the proceeds for other piezoelectric retrofitting, or simply for much-needed repairs to regular roads,” said Gatto. “These projects would quite literally pay for themselves, and will be a significant source of ‘green sector,’ private-sector jobs. ” Gatto’s bill, the Roadway / Highway Electrification Act pilot project, is AB 306 – be sure to vote for it!

+ Assemblyman Mike Gatto

Via Green Optimistic

Lead image © naixn

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10 Comments

  1. fawaz7297 February 15, 2013 at 3:04 am

    Sir,

    I am Fawaz, and im interested to about piezoelectric power generation. my questions is ” how much power will get a piezo electric.

  2. krishaana August 27, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    what type of piezo electric material is used…i am currently doing a project on it …pl do reply…

  3. nick_gogerty February 17, 2011 at 10:25 am

    I stand well corrected. Thank you. I wish more readers participated similar to myTwoCents as these conversation are important.

  4. myTwoCents February 17, 2011 at 6:51 am

    To nick_gogerty (2/15/11@09:27):

    If you’re going to correct misstatements, you owe it to everyone to BE correct. A watt (mega- or otherwise) is NOT a unit of energy; it’s a unit of POWER—i.e., energy per unit time. Energy is expressed in such units as joules or BTUs.

    WORK is another thing altogether and almost entirely off-topic here. Work is force (neither energy nor power) applied over a distance (irrespective of time). While work is expressed in the same units as energy (joules), it isn’t precisely what we want here, because this device produces electricity which is commonly conceptualized as a form of “potential” energy, while work is normally “applied” or “manifest” or “expended” energy. Another way to consider it: electrically generated ENERGY hasn’t been used yet, but WORK has; the energy produces the work (by transformation).

    You are on target insofar as the article’s author should have used appropriate units of production capacity for the device (e.g., either megawatt-HOURS per year, or more simply & purely, just megawatts). But please get your facts straight before correcting others’, so that we’re all better enlightened.

    Respectfully,
    ~myTwoCents

  5. caeman February 16, 2011 at 10:31 am

    What is the up-front installation cost? On-going maintenance cost?

  6. nick_gogerty February 15, 2011 at 9:27 am

    44 megawatts per year. Please edit and update. 44 megawatts is a unit of energy, but what counts is a unit of work which is energy over time. 44 megawatt hours for example. It would also be helpful if the cost were included. Many Inhabitat columns fail to mention feasibility or properly even understand what energy is which sadly hinders taking the articles seriously.

    I would be happy to stop by the office to help out and educate on this. Here is a prezzie I did for Columbia physics dept. fun over view http://www.slideshare.net/guest69c0e/renewable-futures-presentation

  7. nickdb February 15, 2011 at 4:54 am

    AllForTheGreen

    The energy is already being lost by the cars, those are the vibrations they’re referring too.

  8. NickDB February 15, 2011 at 4:52 am

    All

  9. aNOOP February 14, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    NOT FROM THE VEHICLES IT ROBS DUDE… BUT MAKE YOU TO PAY FOR DRIVE AND PAY FOR THE ROAD AND AT LAST THE ENERGY CAME OUT FROM THESE TWO ACTIONS. tECHNICALLY THAT NEEDS TO BE FREE BUT U AINT GET THAT TOO…

  10. AllForTheGreen February 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    How much energy does it rob from passing vehicles? Nothing’s free..

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