When Innowattech introduced its so-called “piezoelectric road”–a 10-meter piece of asphalt embedded with piezoelectric generators–late last year, critics complained that extracting kinetic energy from cars is akin to highway robbery. But Innowattech pushed ahead, and now the company has successfully installed a test of the system along Route 4 in Israel.
The company’s piezoelectric generators (IPEGs) work by turning mechanical strain from vehicles into electrical currents or voltage. The IPEGs can generate energy from a number of different factors–weight, motion, vibration, and temperature changes. Once kinetic energy is captured, the IPEGs relay it to roadside batteries for storage.
In the pilot test, conducted in cooperation with the Israel National Roads Company, the IPEGS are installed five centimeters above the upper layer of asphalt. If all goes well, Innowattech will install IPEGs on highways around the country. The piezoelectric generators could potentially provide Israel with some serious power–a single-lane highway can produce up to 200 KWh, and a four-lane highway could generate 1 MWh, or enough to power 2,500 homes. In addition to generating electricity for buildings, the IPEGS might power billboards, traffic lights, road signs, speed cameras, and other highway amenities.
The ultimate success of Innowattech’s technology will depend on how much energy the IPEGs actually take from cars. While drivers don’t feel the generators when they’re on the road, the IPEGs inevitably lower a vehicle’s fuel efficiency. So until Innowattech can prove that the energy theft from its IPEGs is negligible, questions will remain about the usefulness of the system.
[Via Autoblog Green]