14. Kinetic Energy Recovery from All Vehicles (KERAV)
Problem: Nearly all vehicles waste tremendous amounts of energy, kinetic energy to be specific, when decelerating (either slowing or stopping completely). The majority of this energy is lost to heat through the braking system, never to be used again.
Opportunity: Capture this kinetic energy! Although hybrids are beginning to do this, it is not anywhere near being 100% efficient, and probably will never be. There is still ample opportunity from other vehicles such as trucks, cars, buses and trains.
Starting with trains (I believe they offer the greatest ease of implementation, scalability and known tolerances) begin to install kinetic energy recovery systems (KERS) at the stations that receive the highest amount of traffic. As the trains begin to stop for the station engage a KERS that not only helps slow the train but recovers significant amounts of energy that could be immediately used or stored for later use. As I write this I have heard that L.A. is beginning to pilot this on their trains. Microgrids could be deployed that manage the recovered energy and monitor the generation/consumption.
Additionally, and possibly the greatest possible opportunity, is to deploy grids within the pavement in front of major intersections, off ramps and other areas where many vehicles are consistently decelerating. Imagine this grid is activated when a stoplight turns red. The vehicles in the traffic pattern that has to stop (all vehicles have a device mounted to the bottom of the frame) transfers some of the kinetic energy into the grid embedded in the road. When the light turns green, the grid deactivates in the moving traffic pattern and switches to the stopping traffic pattern. Off ramps from major highways, where vehicles have to slow from 60 MPH to 40, 30, or 20, can always be active and energy is continually captured from deceleration. All bus stops would have this grid capability.
Lastly, and there are people in the U.K. trying to figure this out, my BHAG is to capture kinetic energy from landing airplanes! That would be HUGE!
Why it should be recognized:
I joke that I know the reason for global warming - It's the heat that is lost to the braking systems on ALL vehicles that slow or stop. If the technology can be created and deployed, especially in high traffic areas, who knows how much energy could be captured! We need to find ways to close the loop and get away from single-use, slash and burn, burn it today for a hotter tomorrow mentality. I have calculated that the energy dissipated to stop a 3000 pound car from 30 mph would light a 100w bulb for about 18-1/2 min. 255 mil cars in U.S.!!! How much energy do we waste every day? How much energy can we capture every day if we can make this idea happen?