Israel’s Innowattech is engineering piezoelectric technology for trains.
This time, in conjunction with the National Railway Company, they are testing the efficacy of their piezo-electric technology for use on railway tracks to gather data automatically. For the test 32 existing railway pads were replaced with Innowattech’s electricity generator pads to measure how well they produce electricity. The installation is almost amusingly fast, simple and uncomplicated. Innowattech’s identically sized pads, embedded with piezoelectric elements were just swapped out for the original railway pads.
The test will be run to find the results.
“As our pads contain piezoelectric disks, which can transform mechanical stresses into electrical output (voltage), we can determine the number of wheels, weight of each wheel, the wheel’s capitation and wheel perimeter position. In addition the speed of the train and the wheel diameter (as we use pads at a known distance) can be concluded”.
The engineering enthusiasm of Innowattech CEO Professor Haim Abramovich – Faculty of Aerospace Engineering at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology – is apparent in his writings.
But the apparent simplicity and old tech look of the technology belies its efficiency. If this latest project with the National Railway Company is anything like their previous tests on roads and sidewalks, the amount of electricity their technology can harvest will be impressive.
Preliminary results last year with Technion University and Israel Railways suggest that areas of railway track that get between 10 and 20 ten-car trains an hour, can produce 120 kwh per hour. This is electricity that could be used on the railway itself, or to power the signaling, measure the speed and weight of trains, as well as to transfer it to the grid for use alsewhere.
When our own Karin Kloosterman interviewed Abramovich, he told her that less than a mile of Innowattech piezoelectric roadway can create almost half a megawatt of power, assuming that it’s four lanes wide, and about 1,000 vehicles an hour drive on it.
What this means is that, with their piezo-electric roadway, a bit over every two miles fitted with Innowattech technology would essentially become a 1 MW power station.
A typical coal-fired plant is 250 MW. So every 500 miles adapted to piezoelectric road worldwide could eliminate a coal power station. Sprawling and heavily traveled metropolitan areas would be ideal. Has this guy talked to city planners in Los Angeles? This renewable power can be made for between 4 cents and 8 cents a kwh!
When you consider that this takes up no space – it is already in use as roadway – the usefulness of this cannot be overstated. It even takes less space than other renewables. By comparison, for example, every megawatt of solar takes up about an average city block’s-worth of virgin land.
As CEO Abramoth told Kloosterman, “the good thing for us is that our system does not require space. Like other renewable energy projects, such as solar energy, large amounts of space are required. We can produce energy where it is needed, and won’t need to use wires to commute the energy.”
I’ll be interested to see the newest results. Stay tuned!