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

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