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Slow Down, Power Up
What do you get when you combine the green movement with renewable energy researchers and outside-the-box thinking? You get the Electro-Kinetic Road Ramp, a speed bump that generates electrical energy when vehicles drive over it.
The device operates through a series of articulated plates set in a pad that is practically flush to the road. When a vehicle’s weight is exerted on these plates, they move up and down by means of a special mechanism, which drives a generator capable of producing AC or DC current.
The generator’s output will vary according to the frequency and weight of traffic, producing between 5 and 10 kilowatt hours of energy.
The Electro-Kinetic Road Ramp can generate electricity to power street lighting, traffic lights or road signs. Electricity can also be stored in a battery for later use.
The ramp is covered with a hardwearing elastomeric membrane to avoid any problems with vehicles gripping or skidding when crossing the ramp. The covering also seals the mechanism from the ingress of dirt, water and anything else that may harm it.
Unlike a conventional speed bump, this ramp is not hard. Plus, it has a damping effect to avoid causing discomfort to vehicle occupants.
Highway Energy Systems, a research company in the United Kingdom that developed the Electro-Kinetic Road Ramp, says the device not only produces green energy, it is free energy, once the capital cost of the equipment has been paid.
A pilot program using these “sleeping policemen” — what the English have nicknamed speed bumps — is set to begin soon in London. Depending on the outcome of the testing, it might not be that long before green speed bumps start showing up across the U.S.