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Energy Recovered from Tires Rolling on Pavement

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:50AM

For many systems, a lot of energy can be lost to the environment, and cars are a prime example of this, largely for the heat lost from combustion. Cars also lose a fair amount of energy due to the friction between their tires and the road; as much as 10% of the vehicle's fuel goes to this. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison have developed a way to recover this energy, and ultimately improve the efficiency of cars and more.

When two dissimilar surfaces contact or move against each other, like tires do to pavement, an electrical charge is created. This is called the triboelectric effect, and working with a toy car, the researchers were able to exploit it to create a current. The wheels of the car had electrodes attached to them, so as they touched the ground, they would pick up the moving electrons and send them through some LEDs. This way, as the toy car moved, the lights flashed, demonstrating the potential for this system.

A toy car is a long way for the cars and other vehicles we drive every day, but this could potentially improve gas mileage by 10%, if 50% energy conversion efficiency can be achieved. The exact amount of energy recovered this way, the researchers found, is dependent on the weight and speed of the vehicle, so it is possible it could be better or worse, depending on what and how a vehicle is driven.

Source: University of Wisconsin, Madison

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