Published: Nov 11, 2014 by C.S. Rhymes
What’s the most non environmentally friendly thing you can think of? How about the road. Let’s change that!
I was talking to someone on the phone today and they were using a handsfree kit in their car. The signal wasn’t great and there was a lot of background noise. Rather than listening to the conversation I ended up getting distracted by the noise and was thinking to myself “Gosh aren’t roads a noise place”.
Road noise is generally produced by tyres and exhausts and can become very loud, especially when you have a lot of cars and lorries on a busy road. Aparently tyres are now labelled with the amount of noise they produce, although I can’t ever remeber being told this when buying new tyres. Anyway, there is a lot of noise on a busy road, especially something like a motorway.
This got me thinking, why don’t we create a way of harvesting this unwanted sound and converting it to a more useful form of energy, such as electricity?
I’ll be honest, I’m no science expert, but from what I understand, sound waves travel as vibrations in the air so all we need is something that will absorb this vibration and convert the movement into a rotary movement, which can then drive a motor. I’ll leave the practical details up to someone else cleverer than me.
This also got me thinking about draughts or wind next to a road. Generally, when not stuck in traffic, cars and lorries generate a gust of wind when they travel along the road. You notice this especially when overtaking a lorry on the motorway. If you are on a junction with a busy road you can often feel your whole car wobble as the cars go past.
So as well as these “sound harvesters” why don’t we build wind turbines alongside the road to harvest this wind power as well?
The other thing about roads is that they go on and on for miles, stratching across the length of the country. This is a bit more complicated, but why can’t we create a road surface that also has a grid of solar cells embedded in it?
Protecting the countryside
Ok, so this post may be stretching the boundaries of science (not to mention common sense), but it raises the question, why don’t we look at the infrastructure we already have and use this to improve the other infrastructure, such as the national grid?
Rather than covering the countryside in solar panels and wind farms (which obviously is still preferable to fossil fueled power stations), we could bolt on additional technology to the roads (and even railways) to generate the electricity we need in future.