Harvesting energy from road vibrations
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D) has proposed a bill that would create two pilot sites to test technology harnessesing vibrational energy from cars driving on roadways. The project would place vibration sensors under the asphalt surface along a stretch of road; intermittent strain applied from vibration to the sensors builds up electric charge, which would flow to a battery on the side of the road for storage and use in electrical applications like lighting or feeding the grid. Similar systems are already in place in Italy and Israel.
Gatto claims that the technology could generate up to 44 Megawatts of energy from one kilometer of a one-lane highway in one year. An estimated price tag for the pilot project has not yet been made available. Piezoelectrics have also been proposed in other venues to capture energy from sources as varied as wind, dancing, and walking.