It's been a long day - you are driving on a busy road and are about to doze off - then...boink! Your car veers over a speed bump and you're wide awake again.
Besides waking up sleepy car drivers, speed bumps also help slow down traffic in busy areas. Now, Peter Hughes, a former advisor to the UN on renewable green energy, has devised yet one more job for the "sleeping policemen" - capturing the kinetic energy produced by cars and utilizing it to power street lights, traffic lights and road signs.
The green speed bumps that will replace the current coventional ones, comprise of a number of panels that rise and fall, as a vehicle passes over them. This motion sets off a cog, which helps turns a motor, generating electricity. Hughes estimates that ten ramps could produce the same amount of energy as a wind turbine.
While this sounds great, the initial cost of installing them is steep, ranging between $40,000 to $110,000 USD, compared to regular speedbumps, which cost about $3,000 USD. However, these panels pay for themselves quite quickly, producing between $1.50 to $5.00 USD, worth of energy every hour, for up to 16 hours a day. This translates to between $9,000 USD to $35,000 USD worth of energy, that can be generated in a year.
An added bonus? Any excess electricity produced, can be fed to the National electricity grid, for general consumption. Also, on roads that do not need speed bumps, the panel can be laid flat and still be able to capture the otherwise wasted energy.
Hughes still needs to convince the officials in England though. There are 30,000 speed bumps in London alone. While two hundred city councils are interested, only one, Ealing,in West London has signed up, allocating about $250,000 USD for the project. But, we are sure that if successful, a lot of people not only in England, but everywhere in the world will be interested in installing this green source of energy
This isn't the first time kinetic energy has been harnessed. A nightclub in Rotterdam, Netherlands, is partially powered by the people who come to dance. It has also been discovered that mall shoppers could power a shopping center's lighting, by just browsing around. Pretty cool!