Friday, May 15, 2009

A walk - and drive - down electric avenue^l2494&enPage=BlankPage&enDisplay=view&enDispWhat=object&enVersion=0&enZone=Articles&

By Karin Kloosterman
April 01, 2009
Eddy Grant's song Electric Avenue has come to life: An Israeli company Innowattech has built a technology that allows us to collect the mechanical energy created by cars, planes, and trains, and our feet walking on the surface of a sidewalk.

Now building a pilot plant in Israel, which will be ready within two to three months, Innowattech is testing its technology on real roads, and is also, the company says, developing a system to harvest energy generated by pedestrians walking through New York City subways and busy shopping malls.

While the energy collected by people walking over a specially developed system called IPEG for Piezo Electric Generator, amounts to little, about .0002 joules per step -- maybe enough to power streetlights -- the energy harvested by cars on the street system, could power homes in an entire neighborhood.

Innowattech's track, made from piezoelectric crystals on the road, can harness energy from the vibration of moving vehicles, or the temperature changes that take place on the road. A stretch of road less than a mile long, four lanes wide and trafficked by about 1,000 vehicles per hour can create about 0.4 Megawatts of power, enough to power 600 homes.
The return on investment to establish an Innowattech power plant is about six to eight years, says Abramovich, comparable to investments in wind and solar energy projects. The difference is that with Innowattech, there is no startup space required. The technology can be fitted to new roads being built (preferred), or added on to existing road infrastructure.

"The good thing for us is that our system does not require space," says Abramovich. "Like other renewable energy projects, such as solar energy, large amounts of space are required. We can produce energy where it is needed, and won't need to use wires to commute the energy."

Perfect for all climate types, Innowattech's solution can work in cold Canadian winters, too, and may even have its energy transferred to heat the roads to keep ice at bay.

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