New Technology Captures Energy of Moving Trucks

July 9, 2010

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If a house can generate its own electricity, why can't the trucking industry? The industry might not be far off, with a new technology that generates sustainable electricity by capturing the kinetic energy of moving trucks.

New Energy Technologies says it's approaching commercialization with its MotionPower-Heavy technology, an alternative energy source the company believes will be technically and economically competitive with solar photovoltaic modules
(Photo courtesy of New Energy Technologies Inc.)
(Photo courtesy of New Energy Technologies Inc.)
, such as those we see on the roofs of commercial buildings and residential houses. The difference is, MotionPower may cost less to the owner and is intended for use at application-specific locations.

While New Energy's version of MotionPower-Auto for cars and light trucks is intended for such locations as toll booths, traffic intersections, rest areas, and border crossings, the company is interested in demonstrating the technology at trucking facilities, warehouses, transportation depots, weigh stations and truckstops. In fact, the company will be demonstrating at a cargo port in the Northeast, according to John Conklin, manager of product development and business development for New Energy.

Conklin says MotionPower provides a way for businesses, state agencies and Departments of Transportation and cities to offset their electricity costs by producing their own. This can help reduce their operating expenses. For example, the energy produced from MotionPower may be designed and operated to power a weigh scale, with electrical energy supplied into a load center to power facility fixtures, or excess energy put back on the grid (i.e., net metering interconnect agreement).

Later this summer and into the fall, New Energy will be traveling around the country, offering two-day demonstrations.

How it Works

When designing the MotionPower system, New Energy wanted to make sure not to take away from the vehicle's fuel economy or add to the wear and tear of the truck. That's why the system was designed to capture kinetic energy in a "deceleration application," as Conklin calls it, or in places where vehicles are required to slow down prior to stopping.

Conklin says launching the commercial vehicle version was a logical step in the process, since speed (velocity) and mass (weight) of the vehicle assist with the conversion of kinetic energy into electrical energy. The heavier the vehicle and faster its speed, the more kinetic energy is available for conversion to electricity.

The process works by capitalizing on the smooth flow of pressurized fluids, and mechanical-electrical components. The fluidized components makes use of only a few mechanical parts, which can be financially expensive, prone to mechanical failure, and inefficient as a consequence of mechanical friction.

Conklin emphasizes that the system can be easily embedded into roadways and is intended to be installed at grade, so there is no ramp the vehicle has to go up. In fact, drivers that have tested the MotionPower-Express technology have said they don't even know it's there.

Looking Ahead

According to Conklin, MotionPower is currently undergoing several technical improvements, including improving the process of converting mechanical power to electrical power. The company has no specific time frame for commercialization, but Conklin did say he expects the deployment of the systems at select demonstration applications in the near future.

Ultimately, New Energy would love to spend time with fleets, and is hoping to demonstrate the technology in trucking facilities, warehouses, transportation depots, weight stations and truckstops.

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