Green miles: Italian researchers develop road technology to collect energy from traffic
With the invention of a new paving technology, clean energy could be extracted from traffic. Italian engineers also promise an offset of CO2 emissions and better safety on roads.
Cutting edge technology called Lybra is a tire-like rubber paving, which is designed to convert the kinetic energy produced by vehicles into electric energy. It has been developed by an Italian start-up “Underground Power”, founded in February 2011.
It is a device 10 cm in height, 3 meters wide and 1 meter long. As scientists suggest, Lybra can be installed in various places of deceleration – at traffic lights, pedestrian crossings, roundabouts and parking lots.
“What we propose is an innovative and smart system to recover and absorb energy from cars by slowing them down, increasing road safety and producing green energy by using energy that the car would disperse anyway through its brakes,” the company’s CEO Andrea Pirisi told Euronews TV.
Developed in cooperation with the Polytechnic University of Milan, Lybra operates on the principle that a braking car dissipates kinetic energy. The edge-cutting technology, in its turn, is able to collect, convert this energy into electricity and pass it on to the electricity grid. In addition to improving road safety, the device upgrades and promotes sustainability of road traffic.
A test strip was set up in Milan this summer and the company's technical director, Silvio Doni, says the "system is completely safe even in the most critical conditions," as it is made of materials that can withstand up to 60 tons of load.
According to the team of engineers, a chain of 10 devices located at a rather busy roundabout would be able to produce 100 thousand kWh per year. Just to compare, the same quantity of energy is produced by 19 tons of oil – that’s enough to meet the annual power needs of about 40 families.