Roads can produce electricity

A new type of road being developed in Israel uses crystals embedded in the asphalt to turn the vibration caused by cars into electricity. Engineers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology claim the piezoelectric crystals can produce up to 400 kilowatts from a 1-kilometre stretch of dual carriageway. The system is to be tested on a 100-metre stretch of road in northern Israel in January. A spokesperson for the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) said: “Many predict a massive shift to electric cars, and it may be the roads themselves that help provide some of the power needed.”

How much power can a road produce?

The amount of power generated by these crystals is relatively small – 400 kilowatts per kilometre of dual carriageway – but if the production of the crystals is environmentally benign this system could be a silver lining to the problem of heavy traffic.

To put the amount of energy produced in context, 400 kilowatts per hour is enough to run 8 Ford Fiestas.

What is Piezoelectricity?

The term Piezoelectricity relates to the ability of some materials to generate electricity when they are squeezed or pressed.

In the case of the power generating road, it is the weight of passing cars that ‘squashes’ the crystals and causes them to generate power.

If the processes used to acquire and install the system are environmentally friendly the piezoelectric crystals may provide a green if limited supply of power.

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