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Speed bumps have always been a bane for motorists, because all they can do is reduce car efficiency, waste petrol, and damage cars. But not any more. Engineers have come out with a new form of speed bumps that will generate electricity to power street lights, traffic lights, and road signs. These speed bumps will differ from the conventional speed bumps that we have now. Not only will some of them be harmless, but also all of them will help to generate free renewable energy, apart from the panel and installation cost. Let's see how it works.
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Why Use Speed Bumps to Generate Energy?
A conventional speed bump wastes a huge amount of energy when a car is forced to bring itself from a higher, more efficient cruising speed to almost zero. Large cities have a high number of speed bumps - and an equally high level of traffic. For example, London has around 30,000 speed bumps and also has one of the busiest street systems. Just imagine if all these speed bumps are replaced by the new ones, and then imagine to what extent the problem of energy can be solved.
The new speed bumps can be made flat in the shape of ramps, as a main aim is not to reduce vehicle speed, but to use the energy from passing automobiles to create vibrations and excite a mechanical system. The system makes economic sense, too. A conventional ramp costs around £2000 while the new ramp costs between £20,000 - £55,000. The engineer behind the design says that the difference in cost would be recuperated soon, as each bump can produce up to £1 to £3.6 of energy per hour. This means that per year they can generate approximately between £5,000- £21,000 of energy.
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How Do these Speed Bumps or Ramps work?
Simplicity is the solution to all the problems. The designer of the speed bumps might have been influenced by tthat saying, as the construction of these speed bumps can't get much simpler.
The mechanism consists of a ramp which has a series of silver colored panels. These panels are placed inside a pad which is almost flush to the road. The panels are so arranged that they can be compressed and then spring back to the same position after the vehicle has passed over. When a steady stream of traffic passes over the speed bump, the panels moves in an up and down motion which moves a mechanical system fixed under the road. The mechanical system is connected to a motor which moves due to the oscillatory motion and is thus used to generate energy.
It has been proved that if there is a steady stream of traffic moving over the ramp then it can produce around 10-36 KW of power. Also, only 4 ramps are needed to light a road up to a distance of one mile. If the amount of traffic is high, 10 ramps can generate power equal to that produced by a wind turbine.
These ramps have already been put to use in London and Japan, and at least a dozen countries are already planning to introduce them in the near future.
Full throttle, the next time you see a speed bump!
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Speed bumps to get new role as a source of green energy by Rhodri Phillips with The Guardian Environment Network.