UK to Use Private Cars to Generate Electricity

Wonder if the government’ll be nice enough to give you blokes a break on fuel prices?

A nifty idea. I wonder if they could do something similar for trains?

It is cool, but I dunno about a similar thing for trains. This thing seems to work by using the wieght of cars to drive a generator. You couldn’t realy do that with a train.

“UK to use” = “a bloke in Dorset” = “some guy in Iowa”

Yeah, but some 200 localities have expressed interest, and the article doesn’t say where they all are. They might all be in Dorset, and they might be all over the place (in and out of the UK). At least I didn’t say, “Some Limey’s Gonna Use Private Cars to Generate Juice” or something.

I don’t mean to be a spoilsport, the idea is nifty, but at 25,000 pounds, plus cost of installation, plus cost of maintainance, this seems to me to be actually very expensive energy. I don’t know how much total it would cost, but let’s say over ten years it costs 100,000 pounds (probably low in my opinion) if you add in installation and maintainance. It produces on average 10kw, every time a car drives over it. If we assume that, quite liberally, that it can produce that constantly then it will produce approx. 876,000 kwh over the ten years, or a cost of 11.4 cents/kWh, which is pretty high with considering the liberal assumptions.

There’s also the cost of the fuel used by cars to drive over the things. How much extra gas would it take to drive over one and would the electricity generated by it be equal to that cost?

I suspect that there isn’t 200 district authorities within Dorset. Other than that, it’s great logic :wink:
Genius idea, with fatal flaws. A fair amount of traffic-calming is already “self-subsidising” because it pays for its own upkeep.

Well if this things are placed in areas where you have to slow down anyway (toll booths and stop signs) they could be a savings to the car owner (saving brake wear). Just think if we had a couple of these things on the way to each toll booth and stop sign. And if the gov’t wanted more power they could just put up more toll booths and stop signs.

And as usually the hybrid owners get the shaft :smiley:

A much more efficient plan, at least for wintry climates, would be to install an electric connection on vehicles that can serve as block heater when the car’s engine is off and draw electricity from the car when it is idling. I can imagine plugging in your car with a timer that will block-heat it, then as your car warms up in the morning, it generates electricity and returns it to the grid. Using a car’s engine as a generator has got to be way more efficient and less expensive than trying some kind of roadway system. I expect an idling car could, through an inverter, easily generate 1000 watts. Figure 10,000 cars, each idling for five minutes as their drivers clear off the snow = 83,333 kW-hours, unless I’ve made an arithmetic error along the way. You could hand out the cables for free, telling people that they can get the benefits of a block-heater if they’ll just contribute some otherwise wasted electricity to the grid.

Anyone who steals my block heater/generator cable idea will get to meet me, in court.

If the engine is driving a generator, it’s no longer idling, but doing extra work. So it’ll burn more fuel.

Wasn’t there a GQ thread really recently proposing this exact idea?

True, but I’m sure a value could be chosen low enough that the extra fuel consumption is slight (compared to the overall wastefulness of idling in general). In winter, I generally start my car and spend at least ten minutes getting it warm enough to defrost the front and rear windshields, in addition to sweeping snow and scraping ice from the exterior. If I burned an extra 10 cents in fuel in the process, putting two cents worth of electricity into the grid, and 10,000 of my neighbors were doing the same, surely that would be more efficient than some kind of road-based system.

I’ll have to crunch some numbers. It may simply turn out, though, that trying to recapture energy from cars isn’t worth nearly as much as, say, building codes that require better insulation and solar panels on unused rooftop space.