Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Feb 20

Harvesting Energy From Bumps In The Road

Posted in Energy Inventions | Hybrid Cars | Transportation

Shock Absorber Energy Don’t curse the potholes, they can give you energy, says a team of MIT students. The MIT undergraduates have devised a shock absorber that can smoothen your ride as well as harvest energy from bumps that will generate electricity! The study was published in MIT Tech Talk on Wednesday. The team wanted to figure out where energy is being wasted in a moving vehicle. Some hybrid cars are already recovering the energy from breaking. So the team searched elsewhere and quickly concentrated on suspension. Shakeel Avadhany and his teammates said they can generate up to a 10 percent enhancement in overall vehicle fuel efficiency by using the regenerative shock absorbers.


They rented a variety of car models, attaching sensors to suspension to determine the energy potential. They were aided by laptop computers for recording the sensor data.

Their tests revealed that “a significant amount of energy” was being wasted in conventional suspension systems, Anderson said, “especially for heavy vehicles”. After that they set out to prepare a prototype system to harness the wasted power. Their shock absorber employs a hydraulic system that forces fluid through a turbine attached to a generator. The system is controlled by an active electronic system that optimizes the damping. This device provides a smoother ride than traditional shocks while generating electricity to recharge the batteries or operate electrical equipment.

The students are targeting those companies who operate large fleets of heavy vehicles. The U.S. military and several track manufacturers have already shown a keen interest in this project. The company that manufactures Humvees for the army, and is currently developing a next-generation version of the all-purpose vehicle, is interested enough to have loaned them a vehicle for testing purposes. This technology will give an edge to the military vehicle company in securing the expected $40 billion contract for the new army vehicle called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV.

In their testing so far, the students realized that in a 6-shock heavy truck, each shock absorber could produce up to an average of 1 kW on a standard road. This power will be enough to completely displace the large alternator load in heavy trucks and military vehicles. Sometimes accessory devices can be operated, such as hybrid trailer refrigeration units.

The new shocks also have a fail-safe feature: If the electronics fail for any reason, the system simply acts like a regular shock absorber.

The group plans to have a final, fine-tuned version of the device ready by this summer. Then they approach other big potential customers. For example, they have calculated that a company such as Wal-Mart could save $13 million a year in fuel costs by converting its fleet of trucks.

  • Gene Upp

    — Why is there no generation of electric energy produced at the spinning hubs of big trucks?
    — The weight of the trucks would negate any drag they would have, especially if it was set up to operate on any grade that was down hill .
    — Just think 2 rear wheels per side on the truck and 2 wheels per side on the trailer, that’s 8 places alternators could be built in. Seems to me thats a lot of power potential, and the trucks are using fuel down hill anyway.

  • Francisco A Roque

    If someone just resuscitate the 30’s 200 MPG carburetor, maybe implemented on todays fuel injected systems, we will be more than ok. I do not like the idea of making fuel from corn, come on……corn is like rice, the food of the gods. Look at Tata motors using compressed air, come on America, think.

    Francisco

  • Kristo

    Mostly due to misleading writing, I would like to stress that the absorbers do not really Harvest energy. Not in a way that you can load your batteries for free by driving on bad roads(that’s what the text head tells me).
    All the energy comes(as usual) from the potential energy of the car, so I would call this saving a little energy.

    To those interested but without physics background: The car uses the equal amount of energy(fuel) to climb on a bump as it releases when falling off it.

  • Tom

    A dollar saved is a dollar earned Kristo.

  • Kristo

    Yes, not arguing with that. Just wanted to say that the thing doesn’t “harvest energy”. Just saves.

  • alex_buzatu

    I agree with Tom. A dollar saved is a dollar earned Kristo. Especially these days…


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