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Drive-By Traffic Generates Power
If you've got a busy highway running by your farm, the day may not be far off where you'll be able to get "free" power with a system that uses the weight of passing vehicles to generate electricity.
A group of Oxford-based engineers in England came up with the idea after one of them drove into a gas station and heard the bell that went off after running over a tube filled with compressed air. He wondered why the idea wouldn't work with bigger tubes laid under fast moving traffic.
The engineers came up with a pair of steel panels the width of the road that work like a bellows. They're mounted one above the other - the top one raised slightly above the road - and held a couple inches apart by six leaf springs. Panel edges are sealed by rubber gaskets to form an oil-tight chamber that holds about 150 gal. of hydraulic fluid.
Every time a vehicle passes over the panels, oil is forced out through a pipe to drive a hydraulic motor connected to a generator. An innovative return valve causes the oil being drawn back into the under-road panel to also drive the motor. To ensure a constant supply of power from the system, electricity is stored in a bank of batteries. Even though it's installed on a relatively quiet country road, the prototype system provides enough power to supply the electrical needs of an average size house.
Passing drivers barely notice the slight raise in the road, according to the researchers. (Farm Contractor Magazine)

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1993 - Volume #17, Issue #4