California Piezoelectric Highway

California state officials announced in 2017 a plan to fund an initiative to generate electrical power from traffic, a project that involves harnessing road vibrations with the intent of turning the automobile, like the sun and wind, into a viable source of renewable energy. This project is expected to build upon recent demonstrations with a design that could power up to 5,000 homes from just a half-mile of highway. The $1 million program involves embedding arrays for power generation in a test section of roadway, and raises the possibility of using the roads for data collection, recording traffic conditions and aiding navigation for self-driving cars.

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Project Features/Advancements

  • Pyro-E custom designs and deploys solid-state technologies for energy harvesting applications. Their electromechanical device could extract energy from low-frequency, intermittent vibrations from buildings, train rails, oil/gas pipelines, etc. By coupling with commercial sensors, vibrational energy harvesting enables other devices to operate without wiring, thus paving for an interconnected future that is attainable today. Pyro-E's unique perpetual sensor solution will 1) enable Smart Cities, 2) improve urban mobility, and 3) utilize a greater portion of the renewable energy resources.