Fast food lovers may finally feel a little less guilty about getting greasy burgers. One New Jersey Burger King recently equipped its drive-thru with a speed bump that harvests electricity from cars that pass by. The speed bump is part of a pilot project from New Energy Technologies, and if all goes well, drivers could see energy-harvesting speed bumps at drive-thrus, toll plazas and even shopping centers.
The speed bumps, or “MotionPower Energy Harvesters,” look much different from your typical concrete humps. The “bump” is actually flat, with long, skinny pedals running across the top. As cars drive over the speed bump, it pushes the pedals down and turns the gears inside. The spinning creates about 2,000 watts of electricity from a car moving at five miles per hour.
Energy created by the cars is instantaneous (like solar and wind power), meaning that speed bump developers must also figure out a way to store power for later use. To that end, developers at New Energy Technologies are currently experimenting with mini-flywheels (a device that stores energy by spinning), and also plan to look into supercapacitors and other energy-storing mechanisms. Eventually, once storage is perfected, the speed bumps could be used to power street lamps or even feed power directly to the grid.
While the pilot project has seen encouraging results, don’t expect to see energy-harvesting speed bumps at your local Mickey D’s anytime soon: The devices won’t be commercially available til sometime next year. Still, it’s intriguing to think that those midnight french fry cravings may help create clean, renewable power.