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Speed bumps could make renewable electricity

Speed bumps could make renewable electricity

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A Maryland-based start-up is harnessing the excess kinetic energy of cars passing over speed bumps with a prototype of its new technology.

The U.S. Department of Energy says that only 15 percent of the energy cars utilize from gasoline goes to moving a vehicle forward. Image credit: New Energy Technologies

They might be an impedance to some drivers, but the lowly speed bump could help save the planet. New Energy Technologies, a Maryland-based energy start-up, has devised new technology to harness the excess kinetic energy of cars passing over them.

The most recent MotionPower prototype was field tested in the city of Roanoke, Virginia, two weekends ago in October. Attendees at a weekend circus and gun show were given a live demonstration of the technology as they exited the Roanoke Civic Center.

The decelerating vehicles powered a small sign while passing over the MotionPower speed bump. It works by compressing actuators that are connected to a generator. A separate edition is being designed for heavy trucks.

New Energy Technologies CEO Meetesh Patel previously told CBS Business Network that each unit would cost somewhere between US$1,500 to $2,000 and provide payback within two to three years.

New Energy Technologies has been field-testing MotionPower for over a year now, and engineers have been collecting data for an eventual commercial deployment. One test took place at a Burger King drive-through.

It is targeting installations in parking lots, border crossings, exit ramps, neighborhoods with traffic calming zones, rest areas, toll booths, and travel plazas. Electricity would power roadway signs, street and building lights, storage systems for back-up and emergency power, the company says.

Similar solutions are being tested in Europe. An inventor in the United Kingdom has devised a system of ramps to captured the kinetic energy of vehicles, and a nightclub in Rotterdam, Netherlands, captures the energy expended by people partying up on the dance floor.

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David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure