Next time you drive on the highway, don't regard a rumble strip or speedbreaker as a nuisance. For, it could be running your AC or water heater back home.
If that sounds incredible, just ask Kanak Gogoi, a small-time supplier turned property dealer who was inspired by his daughter Riya's birth eight years ago to innovate. And after designing a power hang-glider, an aeroboat and a three-wheel mini car, he unveiled his latest innovation on Riya's birthday-the rumble strip power generator.
"Like most people, I have often found the speedbreaker to be an impediment to free flow of traffic," said Gogoi. "But when driving over the rumble strips in my locality became inevitable, the idea of converting the potential energy of vehicles into kinetic energy stuck."
Gogoi, in his forties, began working on the idea last year. But instead of the conventional bitumen-and-stone-chip rumble strip, he welded a five-metre long speedbreaker with three identical movable metal plates in the middle. He then approached IIT Guwahati for specific calculations and scientific inputs.
"The plates, inclined by a spring-loaded hydraulic system, are pushed down when a vehicle moves over them, bouncing back to the original position after the vehicle moves away. As the plates come down, they crank a lever that is fitted to a ratchet wheel type mechanism. This in turn rotates a geared shaft. The output of this shaft is coupled to a dynamo to convert the vehicle's potential energy to kinetic energy," explained Gogoi.
According to the IIT's Department of Design, a vehicle weighing 1000 kg moving up an inclined plane of 10 cm produces approximately 0.8 kw power. Though power generated from rumble strips is instantaneous, continuous flow of traffic and storage of electricity generated from their movement over the plates will ensure steady flow, said departmental head AK Das, adding there is technology to store power thus generated.
The IIT has calculated the cost of generation of power from a series of electro-mechanized rumble strips would be below Rs one crore per MW. Comparatively, thermal energy and hydropower cost Rs 5-8 crore per MW.
Gogoi's rumble strip generator has a drawback though. It is unidirectional, applicable only for one-way traffic. "I am working on a two-way system," he said, adding that he has also designed a roadside model village that can draw electricity from rumble strips on highways.