Proposed: Electricity from Pavement Expansion & Contraction

15Jul10

Like so many other ideas, this has probably already been considered, rejected, tried, and/or implemented in one form or another.  My quick search this morning doesn’t turn up anything obvious, and I’m out of time for more searching, so I’ll just write it up and move on.

Pavement expands and contracts with each morning’s solar heating and each evening’s cooling.  Tar strips between blocks of concrete typically absorb that expansion.  (I’m not sure how it works in the case of asphalt, which is tar itself; presumably the tar compresses and/or expands vertically rather than horizontally.)  The tar strips are squeezed upwards as the concrete expands.

Tar, water, or some other material, within a tube or membrane, could instead be made to expand outwards, toward the edge of the roadway.  As the tar strip is squeezed, this outward pressure could drive a little generator, one per tar strip.  Alternately, this outward pressure could compress the air or water in a tube running parallel to the roadway, moving through a larger generator located somewhere down the line.

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