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Power-Generating Shock Absorber Is Surprisingly Strong

Every road has a few bumps along the way, and inventors in both the US and UK have figured out how to use those dips to make electricity. In London, a new pilot project is underway to outfit traditional speed bumps with panels that harvest mechanical energy. MIT students have taken the same concept, but instead outfitted the cars themselves with shock absorbers that can also generate electricity.

The team at MIT's department of Materials Science and Engineering hope to commercialize their invention, which harnesses energy from all those small bumps in the road. The prototype shock absorbers use a hydraulic system that pushes fluid through a turbine attached to an engine's generator. When the vehicle hits a bump, an electronic system cushions the shock and uses that jolt to generate electricity to recharge the batteries or operate electrical equipment. The inventors also worked in a feature that allows the shock absorber to act like a regular one if the electronic system fails.

In a six-shock truck, each prototype absorber could generate an average of 1 kilowatt on a standard stretch of road. That's enough electricity to run accessory devices such as hybrid trailer refrigeration units.

Student Zack Anderson said that after test-driving various models and checking the suspension with sensors, the results showed most vehicles, especially heavy trucks, wasted significant amounts of energy.

The students filed a patent and formed a corporation called Levant Power Corp. to develop and commercialize the product. They are testing a converted Humvee to optimize the system's efficiency and hope to secure a military contract. A better shock absorber that can generate its own electricity will improve fuel efficiencies by allowing vehicles to move faster and viagra north shore smoother. For major companies like Wal-Mart, the cost savings could be significant – they could save $13 million a year on fuel by using the electricity-generating shock absorbers in their fleet of vehicles.

In London, inventors are focusing on the other end – how to use the bumps themselves to gather kinetic energy. Speed bumps, for example, are being tested to see how well they can power street lights, travel signals and electronic road signs. When a car drives over the bump, which can go up and down, a cog underneath the road turns producing energy. The device can work even when laid flat on the road. A steady stream of order cialis online from canada traffic passing over the bump can generate 10 to 36kW of power with ten bumps producing as much energy as one wind turbine.

Via MIT, Earth2Tech

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Comments (22)Add Comment
Speed Bump Power=Theft
written by Manatoa, February 11, 2009
If a municipality powers street lights, signals, etc. using speed bumps that would otherwise not be there, they're stealing from drivers. Furthermore, they're using a horribly inefficient power generator to do it. Unethical and stupid. If the bump is already there and the generator is a replacement that's fine.
...of course!
written by carl, February 11, 2009
I'm not sure I would call the speed bump idea "theft", it would certainly cause increased inconvenience if speed bumps were added in spots where they normally would not be. Also increased fuel efficiency, but where they already exist...we should always look to diversify the enter site generic viagra sale way things can be powered, that way you get increased innovation and may finally stumble on a viable option. It's the only way we can separate ourselves from Coal and Oil.

As for the shocks, it only makes sense. What would be even better is to create a retrofit kit so that even less expensive (i'm sure the shocks they developed will not be cheap) standard shocks could work to generate electricity. As someone building a personal use electric car, this is something I will experiment with myself.
written by Clinch, February 11, 2009
I like the idea, sort of like regenerative braking, but on the shock absorbers. The only problems I have is with the terminology, it's not generating or harvesting( a stealth word for stealing) energy, it's reclaiming it.
written by CNCMike, February 11, 2009
This technology is supposed to make an appearance in the Atomotive X-Prize.
written by Space, February 11, 2009
The speed bump idea is pointless indeed, it only steals energy from the car and generic cialis for order converts it.
The regenerative shock absorber is an obvious yet good idea... but will the pricing match the viagra uk cheap savings?
written by John, February 11, 2009
as a student in the uk, the amount of speed humps here is quite amazing, some of the roads i am on will have one every 200 feet or so depending, they are actually very common here unlike America, while yes i agree a better use is in the car itself (esp when electrics finally hit the stage for real) this idea puts something that would be there anyway to good use, kinda like the revolving door power prototype in NYC
Indeed. Pointless.
written by Steve Bergman, February 11, 2009
The speed bump idea is pointless indeed

Indeed, speed bumps are pointless. I've driven cars, big and small, and the bumps are always more comfortable to go over at speeds which are a bit faster than I would normally have driven. I speed up a bit to hit them. But I guess they work, mostly. Most people hit their brakes and dissipate enough heat energy to drop to about half walking speed, carefully nudge their cars over them, and then hit the accelerator to get back up to normal speed, occasionally crushing a pedestrian under their wheels while they are concentrating upon dealing with the speed bump rather than upon normal driving.

Perhaps the crushed pedestrians could be used to make biofuel? Just a thought...
written by Bram, February 12, 2009
There are a couple of other places in cars where power could be harvested. The problem seems like finding a good way to put it to use. I'm sure it wouldn't be terribly hard to install a stirling engine on the brakes or radiator to harvest energy from waste heat, for instance.
road bumps not entirely pointless...
written by Shu, February 19, 2009
if you're converting power from the vehicle to something else, say remote sensors to monitor bridge activity or a bit more imaginative, power street lights. consider some street lights on a very remote road. it may be difficult or costly to hook up power to those lights from the grid. however if you set speed bumps in road, you could capture energy from passing vehicles to power those lights. this could overall be a more efficient system since the lights would only be on when they're being used i.e. when there are cars on the road.
free lunch
written by Jeff Green, February 19, 2009
I find it strange that a good deal of people call it stealing. I don't know how much vibrational energy is converted into energy.

Does a normal smooth road still make energy? I think the answer is yes. If so, its harvesting energy that wasn't there before.

Its time to harvest the easy energies where we didn't have them before.
Embedded road bumps
written by Eddie, February 19, 2009
I propose they recess the canadian pharmacy speed bump into the road bed and let the weight of the vehicle compress a sub-surface piston generator that springs back after the vehicle rolls over it...
Both great ideas.
written by Richard Davine, February 20, 2009
Nice one Hank.
Speed bumps don't bother me, I ride a bicycle.
Only the selfish car drivers complain?
Stealing? Are you insane?
This is exactly the sort of article I subscribe to Eco Geek for.
Unless we change how do things, through an efficiency and innovation revolution, we're stuffed.
If every existing car and speed bump had these gizmos, it's a no-brainer that it would be a fantastic thing.
Convert braffic volume counter to genera
written by Ray K, February 20, 2009
Why not place cables across highways similar to the contraption that records the levitra dosage volume of buy discount cialis traffic that passes a certain street. You will see the rubber sensors stretched along the road attached to a box that often has a sign "do not disturb." The rubber sensors are not thick enough to have to slow down. Imagine how much energy can be converted everyday and night with all the traffic passing through if the machine attach can be used to give power to street lights and traffic signals.
written by Ladia, February 27, 2009
The issue of streetlights is different than most people think. General public was taught that light is important for safety (there is some truth to it) but the real reason is that the power companies need the load to stay on the line at night when there is less demand for elctric power. Typical coal burning boiler can operate between about 90 to 105% of rated power. At anything bellow 90% the fire can't sustain itself. Only smaller units burning high quality coal might be the exception. Therefore the levitra cheap producers of electric power can't operate without the load street lights provide.
written by Uncle B, March 15, 2009
Latest Power storage unit operates at very high voltages, SEE:
EEStor and its new patent. Its latest 127.7kg prototype dubbed as an EESU (Electrical Energy Storage Unit) claims to have a capacitance of 30.693 F, and retains a whopping 52,220 kWh of energy.,got-batteries-get-supercapacitors.aspx/1

High voltages make for capture of small high voltage pulses a practical reality, so shock absorbers may be the first of a long line of H.V.capture techniques we will see.
The Israelis have developed a Piezo transducer to power street-lights that only require the presence of propecia canada pharmacy the vehicles weight, and make no compressive movement at all to make free power at intersections - look up Piezo's on the net, they are fascinating things!
We will all be able to drive battery/electrics for a reasonable capital outlay sooner than we think! SEE:
“The astounding Chinese have epoched the great GM, of U.S.A. in producing an Electric/gas/plug-in car! They are driving them in the streets of China as we speak, they will be retailed in the U.S.A. by 2011, they will cost half the price of a "Volt" and they are "On Order" for Israel! GM take a deep breath, your naughty parts have just been cut off by a Chinese high-tech competitor, and the "Volt" is still "Vapor-ware"!” See:

Perhaps "Generator Shocks" will become an option on battery/electric hybrids of the future along with other miraculous power generators of the science of the near future. The ending of "cheap oil" has opened a whole new world of viagra 50 mg online discoveries for America, Great Stuff!
written by mar bautista, May 05, 2009
instead of just using speedbumps, using a vehicle's weight to generate power as it moves forward along a highway, is a possibility that has not been explored fully. I can imagine the potential of an entire length of highway, with all the cars moving in one direction, and the weight of a vehicle compressing a series of pistons or perhaps a bladder of hydraulic fluid, and the energy can be focused to power a generator, which can be utilized for a variety of purposes, from streetlights, to charging stations, etc. This can be viable whether the cars are electric or fossil fuel driven.
The issue is who could provide the drug viagra funding and levitra 50mg the technical expertise to design an efficient system which can be placed retrofitted into a road to utilize the weight of a vehicle to power an electric generator.
written by Paul T, December 22, 2009
Hang on guys. Any conversion device in the road to produce energy from passing traffic is just converting the vehicles kinetic energy into electrical energy. The energy comes from the vehicles motor, however you design it. Therefore unless the conversion device is placed where traffic has to slow anyway, then the driver is paying for the electricity produced in his fuel bills. On the other hand normal shock absorbers convert kinetic energy into heat which is then lost to the environment. If this wasted heat can be turned into electricity then it will result in savings for the driver. This is not a new idea, back in the 1970s several prototypes were built to convert the reciprocal movement of brand cialis the shock directly into electricity. They worked, but the shocks and their control systems could not be made robust enough for long term service back then. Let´s hope the MIT people succeed this time.
Speed Bumps plus Shock absorbers = world peace
written by Neill, December 22, 2009
I think we should all get these power generating shock absorbers installed on pick up trucks, and then drive in circles over the power generating speed bumps. With the infinite power supply, there will be an end to struggles over the world's dwindling oil supply, and hence world peace.
written by Chris, December 23, 2009
The shock absorbers are a great idea. It replaces a piece of essential machinery with a device that can not only do it predecessors job but it can also produce electricity. Of course with all new technology it will be expensive at first. However as the technology is perfected and as the benefits become clear large corporations will invest in it, causing the price to come down. If we are to reduce our carbon foot print and reduce our dependence on foreign energy small improvements in everyday machinery like this are essential.
written by sslPro, January 18, 2010
The use of mjcro dynamos as in the speed bump concept - should be
optimized , & then used where ever - an example the weight of snow or rain
water, peoples body weight use things that are part of life , take kinetic energy
and convert it to electrical energy-( store it / use it wisely,) Energy
from life activities & the environment instead of reliance on fossil fuels - we
need more 21st century solutions
written by driveways melbourne, December 12, 2011
Great post. A comprehensive roundup of all the good sources I already knew of and few I didn’t. Awesome stuff. You seem to make good recommendations so I’ll have to check out the ones on this list that I don’t know.
Trouble maker
written by James Smith, April 25, 2013
This could work even more directly and efficiently by using liner electric motors as generators. They could be electronically controlled to provide as much shock absorbing resistance as needed. The stiffer the resistance as at the ends of the travel, for example, would generate more current while having far fewer moving parts.

The downside would be if there was a failure in the electronics, there would be no shock absorber on that wheel. That's the same as if an ordinary chock lost its hydraulic seals.

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