Engineers invent a way for cars to harvest energy from bumps in the road

Can we harvest energy from the suspension of vehicles? New research says it can.  

Lei Zuo, a professor in Virginia Tech's College of Engineering, has been developing the potential of harvesting energy from a car’s suspension. Zuo explained that only 10-16% of the fuel a car consumes is actually used to drive — that is, to overcome road resistance and air drag. Most of the rest is lost to heat and other inefficiencies.

Three major opportunities exist for recovering or generating energy while driving: the waste heat given off by the engine, the kinetic energy absorbed during braking, and the vibrational energy dampened by the shock absorbers.

Zuo estimates that a car’s shock absorbers should be able to provide between 100 and 400 watts of energy on normal roads and even more on rougher roads. 

His energy-harvesting shock absorber works by translating the vertical vibrations of the suspension into rotational motion that turns a generator. The generator delivers electricity directly to the car’s battery or electrical devices, reducing the demand on the alternator.

This technology could find a home on the traditionally bumpy forestry roads. 

Click here for source (Virginia Tech)

Photo: FIEA