Next time you drive on the highway, don't regard a rumble strip or speed-breaker as a nuisance. It could be running your air conditioner or water heater back home.
Kanak Gogoi, a small-time supplier turned property dealer, has given concrete shape to this incredible sounding idea. Inspired by his daughter Riya's birth eight years ago to innovate, Gogoi unveiled his latest gizmo on Riya's birthday — the rumble strip power generator.
"Like most people, I have often found the speed-breaker an impediment to the free flow of traffic," said Gogoi. "But one day the idea of converting the potential energy of vehicles into kinetic energy struck me."
Gogoi began working on the idea last year. Instead of the conventional bitumen-and-stone-chip rumble strip, he welded a five-metre long speed-breaker 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 as it passes. As the plates come down, they crank a lever fitted to a ratchet wheel type mechanism. This rotates a geared shaft. The output of this shaft is coupled to a dynamo to generate power," explained Gogoi.
The IIT's Department of Design calculated that a vehicle weighing 1,000 kg moving up an inclined plane of 10 cm produces approximately 0.8 kw power. Continuous flow of traffic and storage of electricity generated from their movement will ensure a steady flow of electricity, said departmental head AK Das.
The cost of generating such power would work out at below Rs 1 crore per MW, the IIT estimates. Comparatively, thermal energy and hydropower cost Rs 5-8 crore per MW.