Harvesting energy from vehicle transportation on highways using piezoelectric and thermoelectric technologies

The present project uses piezoelectric and thermoelectric technologies to harvest energy from moving vehicles on highways. The concept of the energy harvesting system will be demonstrated through a lab-scale model. It is expected that the large-scale implementation of the system can provide adequate energy for low-power electronics.

The rise in global energy demand and overconsumption of non-renewable resources made the need to shift towards renewable energy more alarming than ever before. Green energy is a major solution to achieve a sustainable future. Today, the transport sector highly relies on fossil fuel, consumes nearly one-quarter of the total energy in developed countries, and represents a massive environmental burden. During the last decade, energy harvesting from highways has attracted significant interest within the research community. The various ambient energies that are otherwise wasted, can be captured and converted to electricity. However, energy harvesting is still at an early stage of development and has not shown adequate evidence to fully rely on its consumption. This project reviews and investigates the recent advancement and challenges faced by energy harvesting from piezoelectric and thermoelectric technologies. The study aims to combine piezoelectric and thermoelectric technologies to harvest energy from moving vehicles on highways. Asphalt pavements absorb a large amount of heat due to solar radiation and moving vehicles. The thermoelectric generator is designed to take the heat source from the hot asphalt pavement, through a pipeline system and the cold source is obtained from a heatsink. A piezoelectric layer is embedded between the asphalt layer to take advantage of the impact and mechanical vibrations due to moving vehicles on highways. The electricity generated is expected to feed micro-power electronics and replace conventional batteries with all their shortcomings. Other benefits expected include sustainable development to the infrastructure of highways, reduction of an urban heat island effect, and mitigation of carbon footprints. At a social level, the system would enhance job opportunities, raise awareness towards green energy, bring innovation to the transport system, and provide energy in deprived areas.

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