“The prime demand from any
roads company is not to interfere
with the health of an existing
road by applying a new technology,” says Haim Abramovich,
president and co-founder of the
Haifa, Israel-based firm.
To minimize risk, the team covered the generators with bitumen tear sheets and performed tests
on similar surfaces in the company’s backyard.
“We managed to prove that our generators do
not harm the road by running a few mini-pilots
where the generators were embedded into the
road,” he says. “The road health was monitored,
showing no degradation.”
But it did reveal a new source of power. That
one lane of a busy half-mile (800-meter) stretch can
create enough energy to power 150 homes—simply
using the weight of the cars on the generators.
Every time we take a step, we are all dissipating
energy into our environment—energy that is
wasted. —Oliver Schneider, The Facility, London, England
EXPERIENCING TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES
Teams working on piezoelectricity projects can
also run into difficulties integrating all the different components. MicroStrain launched a project
to create sensors powered by the vibrations of
U.S. military helicopters so that they, in turn, can
track the structural health of the vehicles.
“The craft can be continuously monitored by
the sensors without the need for battery replace-
ment,” explains Chris Townsend, executive vice
president of engineering at the Williston, Ver-
mont, USA-based company. “This is extremely
beneficial in applications that require sensors to
be deeply embedded and therefore hard to reach
for battery maintenance.”
Getting the energy harvesting and storage ele-
ments, the embedded sensor data-acquisition soft-
ware and the radio frequency communications to
work together proved daunting, though.