Remember a while back when I found that thing that was supposed to take “wasted” energy from cars on the road and use it to generate electricity? That thing that won’t work? Well someone’s done it again, and it’s basically the same idea.
Let’s recap why the original idea won’t work so I can more effectively point out why this new one is not quite as bad an idea. MotionPower, the people behind the first idea, say that their system will “harness some of the kinetic energy being generated, and wasted, by moving cars”. That phrase is all you need to know. The main thing there is that they seem to think that moving cars generate kinetic energy. This is not true. Moving cars have kinetic energy because they are moving. A car that generates kinetic energy means that it causes something else to move. If you were to, say, throw a rotten apple out a car window at a street sign (hypothetically of course), it would hit harder because of the additional energy it gets as a result of being thrown from a moving car. If you hit a pedestrian and they go flying across the parking lot, the car has generated kinetic energy in that pedestrian (technically it’s transferred some of its own, but close enough). And that’s why this won’t work.
You see, for the car to generate kinetic energy in the system and cause it to move and thus generate electricity, it has to transfer some of its own energy, which it obviously loses. When you hit a ball with a bat, the bat slows down. The fact that there is a system taking away kinetic energy from the car means that one of two things must happen: either the car burns the same amount of fuel but doesn’t go as fast, or it goes the same speed but burns more fuel. the same is true of wind resistance: the act of displacing air sucks the energy from the car. That’s why the Bugatti Veyron only needs 220 horsepower to get to 155 miles an hour, but a full 1000 to get to 255. So much energy is taken by the air that it takes a massive amount more power to maintain such speeds. So all this supposedly awesome system is doing is making cars have worse gas mileage.
The one caveat that the grocery store idea has is that it’s very low-speed and very localized. What they should do is make them into speed bumps. That way, the impact on each car’s gas mileage is minimal, since no one drives back and forth over grocery store parking lot speed bumps all day. Except in New Castle. Secondly, the speed bumps do what they do and slow people down. This prevents the transfer-of-energy situation mentioned earlier. Third, the idea behind the grocery-store version was to power the registers. This means that the grocery store is saving on their own electricity bills by making the consumers use their own gas money to pay for the store’s electricity. And that’s fucking brilliant, especially since not a damn soul that goes there will know. They’ll think they’re contributing to a greener world. I don’t know how I get these ideas sometimes. It’s like a gift. It’s like I can’t control it.
Unfortunately, it won’t be in speed bump form. Obviously no one consulted me on this. It’ll just be slightly angled plates, which’ll still work but not as cool. The real kicker that drives me crazy, though, is Popular Science’s take on it. “If one parking lot can power cash registers,” they cheerily and naively muse, “imagine packing roads with this technology and how much energy can be recollected from all the world’s drivers?” HAHAHA LOLS OMG FREE GREEN ENERGY FOR EVERYONE LOLS! You want to know how much can be recollected? None at all. Pay attention now. NOT A GODDAMN BIT. It won’t fucking work.