A new energy concept is opening up opportunities in the renewable energy sector. Research by Tauw and the University of Twente in Netherlands demonstrated that vehicle vibrations on roads can generate electricity. The new concept, known as Vibration Energy, could serve as an effective local energy source. It offers a suitable, sustainable alternative for powering roadside sensors and other applications. The researchers carried out a successful trial run on eastern Netherlands’ N34 provincial motorway near Hardenberg.
The innovative energy production concept uses piezoelectric material to convert vibrations from passing vehicles into energy. The piezoelectric material was applied on the surface of the highway, marked at 100 km per hour. The research potentially opens up the use of piezo technology in road construction. The researchers sought to establish the possibility of energy generation from traffic vibrations using piezoelectric material. From the study, the amount of energy to be generated depends on the number of vehicles passing and the number of piezo elements in the road. The Australian federal government last year set up a $10 billion fund to invest in clean and renewable energy.
From their preliminary investigation, vehicles that were moving slowly seemed to generate more electricity than faster moving vehicles. Whereas the amount of energy generated was not enough to power traffic lights or street lights, it could nonetheless provide an alternative source of energy for applications that need less energy such as motion sensors. Separately, Sony is developing "smart sockets" that only dish out electricity to approved users or devices, and a home power grid that constantly tracks electricity use by time and appliance.