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Driving Force: Harvesting Kinetic Energy from Passing Cars

October 25, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

Innovators restlessly think up new and ‘greener’ ways to harness power to fuel our world. The push to make and use greener energy sources is larger than ever, and is focused on thermal, hydroelectric, solar and wind power. Sainsbury, a UK grocery chain to fuel checkout, uses kinetic power from their parking lots.

The new location which opened in Gloucester in June 2009 was installed with a number of kinetic energy plates in their parking lot. This means, that every single time a car drives over the plates the motion creates energy. This energy is stored and thus provides power to the fuel checkout stands. Grocery chain sources say the plates are capable of supplying 30kWh of energy per hour. Keep in mind, that this kind of kinetic-energy collecting does not come free; yes, it does mean the car uses up more fuel at each bump, which of course is a small amount. This though is not negligible as most cars still use eco-unfriendly fossil fuels – making each trip to this location a little taxing on the environment. However, making the assumption that the plates are used in place of speed bumps which are quite frequently found in supermarket parking lots, then, the amount of energy used up by the car is almost the same.

Kinetic energy plates is just one way Sainsbury’s is using greener energy sources. The Gloucester Quays location has a rainwater collection system which it uses to flush its toilets, the store has large windows to let in natural light, reducing dependency on artificial lighting and also uses solar thermal panels to heat the store’s water during the summer.

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