Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The electric drive: How roads could create energy

It can be the most frustrating part of owning and driving a car: Rush Hour Traffic. So much of our lives are wasted moving at a snail’s pace. Wouldn’t it be great if something positive could come from all that time and energy wasted?

For citizens in California, that time and energy will be put to good use. Drivers are about to make a huge difference in the way energy will be created and stored and they don’t even have to leave their cars.

According to an article on, The California Energy Commissions (CEC) has paved the way for a pilot program to use piezoelectric crystals embedded into sensors to be installed on freeways.

What is a piezoelectric sensor? Well it has nothing to do with that cherry pie you might be craving. A piezoelectric sensor is a material about the size of a watch battery. When pressure or vibrations are applied to it creates an electrical current that can be harnessed and fed onto the energy grid.

Multiply the power of piezoelectric sensors by the tens of thousands of cars and hundreds of sq. miles of sensors embedded into the freeway, and power could be provided to entire cities.

This type of technology isn’t exactly new. Many countries are already harnessing this technology. says that the East Japan Railway Company Tokyo Station has been using the power of pedestrians as they walk over floors made up of piezoelectric sensors since 2009. Israel is also using this technology on some of their highways and Italy is not far behind.

Maybe at some point we will all be doing the  “Piezoelectric Slide” on our roads.

Tell us what you think! Would you like to see this technology installed on our state roads someday?

Check out this animation for a simplified example of how this process works:

Animation music credit:

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