Transportation

Americans spent 5.5 billion hours annually stuck in traffic. The extra fuel and lost productivity cost ~$120 billion to the US economy annually [1]. One solution to the problem is to recover a part of the energy associated with traffic congestions. Namely, along the 400,000 lane-miles of California highways [2], the energy loss of approximately 1,400 GWh is equivalent to the rolling resistance of 330 billion miles driven in 2016 – $240 million worth in electricity at retail.  Here, the identified opportunity aims to harvest the lost energy using a special class of smart materials, called piezoelectrics. The objective is to convert the billions of tire compressions over pavement every day into carbon-free electricity. At scale, the power generated could provide 60% rate-reduction from retail electricity to help offset the adverse environmental impact of gasoline vehicles. For ratepayers, this new form of energy would provide savings during peak rates that coincide with rush hour traffic.

 

References:

[1] https://www.transportation.gov/fastlane/build-america-investment-summit

[2] http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/tsip/hpms/hpmslibrary/prd/2013prd/2013PublicRoadData.pdf

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