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Linear Automotive Electric Generator

a hair raising drive
  [vote for,

Install a continuous conductive reinforcing bar (wire) wind back and forth across the width of each lane of a road. Then turn cars and trucks into electromagnets by supplying engine generated electrical current to windings about large iron parts such as rear axle housings, engine blocks, etc. Alternately, a specifically designed and constructed steel body and carriage would be used to create a large electromagnet when engine generated current is passed through it.

When such a vehicle is driven down a properly constructed roadway, electrical current will be produced in the conductive reinforcing bar, which can then be used to power various devices such as traffic advisory systems, streetlights and other municipal power needs.

nuclear hobo, May 20 2007

highway traffic advisory system http://www.paturnpi...ummer99/vmstest.jpg
[nuclear hobo, May 20 2007]


       So, the upshot is that you use the passing vehicles to power the streetlights?
pertinax, May 20 2007

       There is a category for this idea called car:road:generator. You will find the close cousins of this idea there.
bungston, May 20 2007

       The power generated could be used for any number of purposes, the most direct being those associated with the roadway itself.   

       Being that streetlights are only necessary after dark, during the day power could be shunted to desalination plants, electric vehicle battery chargers, SETI, etc. Since streetlights are powered by traffic, they only run when vehicles go by, reducing light pollution and making followers of the Dark Sky Movement happy. I find this the sweetest aspect of this idea - streetlights powered by and only lit for the duration of passing traffic.   

       Traffic jams would slow down power generation, with gridlock resulting in a blackout. Conversly, higher speeds would result in greater power generation, which would ultimately bring forth calls for higher speed limits.
nuclear hobo, May 20 2007

       You're asking the inefficient car engines to supply the power to generate this energy? Bone, until all cars are powered by Mr. Fusion.
elhigh, May 23 2007

       No, I'm proposing using already running inefficient car engines (whihc are already running a generator) to turn turn the existing rolling mass into an electromagnet that can be used to generate current in wire embedded in the road.   

       Imagine street lights and signs that only light up when a vehicle approaches.
nuclear hobo, May 23 2007

       By taking power from those moving masses, you are reducing their efficiency further.
Galbinus_Caeli, May 24 2007

       I am curious about that. If a car's magnetic field is increased to the point where it initiates current in a conductor buried in the roadway, how is the car's efficiency reduced? The car is aready generating surplus electricty. Does the increased magnetic field cause drag? Would cars get stuck to steel bridges and light poles? Would bumper to bumper drafting take on new dimensions?
nuclear hobo, May 24 2007

       //Does the increased magnetic field cause drag?//   

       You got it in one.   

       Try this. Find two magnets. Hold one in each hand and move them past each other (with opposite poles facing). You should notice a drag.
Galbinus_Caeli, May 24 2007

       It's not the increased magnetic field that causes drag. It's the act of extracting energy from that moving magnetic field that causes drag.   

       A better experiment than that suggested by GC is this:   

       Take an ordinary DC electric motor and spin the shaft. Notice that it turns pretty easily. This is equivalent to the car driving down an ordinary road which is not extracting energy from the moving magnetic field.
Now, take that same DC motor and short the terminals with a jumper. Spin the shaft again, and notice that it comes to a stop much more quickly.

       While I like the idea that streetlights should be powered only when there are cars close enough to make use of them, this is not the way to do it.
Freefall, May 24 2007

       I also like the idea of saving energy (and light pollution) by having only a few road lights on at a time. If there's no traffic, flick the others off. Not certain how the reliability and durability of the filaments would be under heavy cycling, however.
RayfordSteele, May 25 2007

       Lots of streetlights are HID arc lights; striking the arc is where most of the wear and tear occurs in the lamp's life cycle, and restrike after turnoff can require a delay of as much as ten minutes, so that isn't a great solution.   

       LED streetlights are becoming more popular as the price point of the emitters comes down. I don't think they suffer much from on-off cycles, and they don't take much juice to light up. They're also more tightly focused, which keeps the dark sky groups happy.   

       Hey, back to the thread: tie the inductive generation to a traffic signal's cycle so the inductive loop is active only when the red light is on. The road helps slow the traffic down. And because it works on the body of the car, it reduces wear on brakes while pulling kinetic energy from the car to dump into the city grid. That, I'll bun.
elhigh, May 28 2007


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