A piezoelectric device. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
As you drive down the road, your vehicle wastes large amounts of energy through friction, wind resistance, and vibrations. But what if there was a way to harness some of this wasted energy and use it to produce electricity?
Scientists at the City University of New York are working on a system that would do just that.By channeling wind over piezoelectric materials, researchers have been able to produce small amounts of electricity from passing air and vehicle vibrations. The small devices, which are about a half-inch by one inch in size, generate electricity kinetically when they are caused to vibrate. They could be mounted on the roof or tail of cars and trucks, or on the fuselage of an airplane.
The energy produced by these small devices would not be enough to replace the engine. It might be possible, however, to power other systems, like digital control panels, or to recharge small electronics like cell phones.
Getting the piezoelectrics to produce electricity was relatively straight forward. The challenge has been creating a system that optimizes air currents over a vehicle to produce the most electricity. Researchers are currently using tubes to direct the flow and have found vehicle tail placements to be more productive than roof placements, which suffer from more turbulent currents.
The results of this research will be presented at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society's (APS) Division of Fluid Dynamics.
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