Rumble strips wake you up before you drive off the highway. Speed bumps get you to slow down in places like a parking lot. In Roanoke, Virginia, the first working model of a New Energy MotionPower system recently collected power from cars leaving a civic center during a weekend that saw the circus and a gun show come to town. Clowns and guns make energy? In this case, yes.
The demonstration by New Energy Technologies Inc., done in partnership with the City of Roanoke, marked the first time a working model of the MotionPower system was used. Lloyd wrote about this system back in 2009, when it was being tested at a Burger King in North Carolina.The same company is still perfecting the device, which helps a vehicle slow when the driver needs to, and can be seen as a form of regenerative braking technology. New Energy thinks its rumble strips are a perfect fit for the microgrid, helping power something near and dear, like street or traffic lights.
The working model here was used during a high-volume traffic period, with about 600 vehicles over a six-hour period, which doesn't come along every day. But in a busy city, it could come along often enough to make these devices useful.
According to the company, "Once fully optimized and installed, engineers anticipate that MotionPower devices may be used to augment or replace conventional commercial electrical supplies used to power roadway signs, street and building lights, emergency power storage systems and other electronics, fixtures and devices."
How much power was generated in the Roanoke demonstration? Potentially enough to power lights for the average American home for an entire day. That's neat, but not necessarily revolutionary. At least at the moment.
Some folks might fancy using these on the road that rumbles outside their home. But then again, that would only be slowing down cars that are trying to move forward, and converting gasoline energy into electrical energy, pretty inefficiently.
But wait, the company says the power from the 600-vehicle, six-hour demonstration also could be used in commercial applications, to light up a 150-square foot electronic billboard or marquee for an entire day. Imagine these strips being installed on the well-traveled highway exit to a sporting or concert venue that's using a marquee anyway. How about arrival and departure areas at airports, parking lots, border crossings, rest areas, toll booths, travel plazas? There are possibilities here.
The circus-gun show test was the first that New Energy plans to conduct in and with the City of Roanoke. A city official says Roanoke is "the first city in the nation" to test the technology. Burger King isn't a city, so it wouldn't qualify.