There are more than 2.5 billion cars, which generate wind turbulence. The same wind turbine which is responsible for huge windmill rotation can be replaced by small efficient traffic wind turbines.

Top Article from 2019 - Traffic Powered Wind Turbines
Top Article from 2019 - Traffic Powered Wind Turbines

Len Calderone for | AltEnergyMag

We have seen energy produced by windmills, which depend on the wind blowing. Now, we can get energy from wind turbines placed on the side of a roadway or in the center of a divided highway.  This system of electrical power generation utilizes wind draft force from vehicles traveling on roadways. Moving at high speed, vehicles push away air as they travel, producing a lot of energy. By placing wind turbines on the side of a road or in the center of a road, energy can be captured.

There are more than 2.5 billion cars, which generate wind turbulence. The same wind turbine which is responsible for huge windmill rotation can be replaced by small efficient traffic wind turbines, which rotate with the help of moving air from passing cars on the highway.

Natural wind speed normally does not exceed several miles an hour. To commercially adopt a wind powered electricity generator, it requires a large-scale wind impeller. Using small roadside wind turbines, energy can be captured by wind draft generated by high speed moving vehicles.

A center of the road wind turbine is able to capture wind draft in opposite directions from each side of the road. The road center wind turbine has two air flow conduits, one for each side of road. Each conduit has an inlet opening, an outlet opening and a middle opening. The inlet opening faces toward the opposite direction of roadway traffic. The outlet opening faces toward the direction of roadway traffic on its side. The middle opening allows wind turbine blades to work with air flow traveling through this conduit.

A road side wind turbine is similar to the road center apparatus, except that it only faces one side of traffic, therefore it only has one air flow conduit and only one set of inlet and outlet openings.

TAK Studio designed overhead highway lights, which are powered by wind turbines. The turbines are spun by the air turbulence generated as cars and trucks travel past at high speed.

This concept uses all that wasted wind to do useful work, such as generating electricity to power highway lights at night, while feeding back into the grid during daylight hours.

Young entrepreneur, Sanwal Muneer, invented a wind turbine for use on the side of the road. His company, Capture Mobility, moved to Scotland from Pakistan under the global entrepreneur program of the government body, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI). The Scottish government is investing in cleaner-energy technologies; and since the wind is strong and plentiful all year round, this made Scotland a good location for Muneer’s company.

Muneer’s turbine stands 8’ tall and is made of recyclable carbon fiber. The turbine weighs just 20 pounds, which makes it easy to transport and install. The fully-charged battery can hold a kilowatt of electricity, which is enough power to run two lamps and a fan for around 40 hours. The idea is that this turbine could supply electricity for rural communities in developing countries, or could be used to power traffic lights or road signs in urban areas.

Vehicles driving on the highway offer an intermittent and uncontrolled source of wind power. The design of a wind turbine must include the storage of energy and a system to distribute the generated power effectively. Wind turbines are customarily used in remote locations, which adds the challenge of having to transport the power generated to the location wherein it will be utilized.

Since the wind turbines are so close to traffic, the design must consider safety. The safety measures should include stationary highway guards surrounding the rotating turbine blades and warning signs.  A survey of traffic flow also needs to be performed to establish boundary limits for the wind turbine design. There will be times when traffic will be bumper to bumper or stop and go. During these times, the wind turbine must be able to store energy.

Although most wind turbines are employed in rural areas, there needs to be a turbine designed for use in the cities to counteract the amount of pollution created by burning fossil fuels while introducing a potential source of clean energy.  

China designed gear turbines, which were very inexpensive and the modular sections could easily be snapped together to form a larger system. That design was not as environmentally friendly as the designs with larger propellers. Other designs include turbines built into highway dividers or on overhead poles as seen in the design by an Arizona State Student. He calculated that with cars moving at 70 mph, 9,600 kilowatts of electricity could be produced per year using this design.

The wind turbines shown are quiet running. In many developed areas, there is sufficient traffic volume to maintain a steady airflow through much of the day.

One of the best designs is a vertical axis wind turbine placed along roadways that have a high volume of fast-moving traffic. The electricity generated will then be the stored in batteries; and since the electricity produced will be direct current it must be converted into alternating current so that it can be used for lighting the street lamps or sold to the grid. The DC current must pass through an inverter before it can be used.

Vertical Axis Wind Turbine by VWT Power Ltd

A vertical wind turbine design is suitable because vertical turbines are proficient in capturing wind in any direction, while horizontal turbines need to be pointed in the direction of the wind. In addition, heavy parts such as the generator and battery can be easily stored at the base of the turbine.

To sum up, extensive data needs to be collected on wind patterns produced by vehicles on both sides of a highway. Using the collected data, a wind turbine needs to be designed to be located on the medians of the highway.  One turbine may not provide sufficient power generation, but a group of turbines on a long stretch of highway has the potential to generate a large amount of energy that can be used to power streetlights, other public services or even produce profits by selling the power back to the grid.  

This design concept is workable and environmentally friendly. A wind turbine powered by artificial wind has many applications. Hypothetically, any moving vehicle can power a wind turbine such as an amusement park ride. A highway wind turbine can be utilized to deliver power in any city around the world where there is high vehicle traffic.  

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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