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Environment

Green Electricity From Freeway Vibrations? L.A. State Assemblyman Mike Gatto Wants to Make it Happen

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Thu, Jun 2, 2011 at 1:05 PM

click to enlarge Mean and green? Magnum P.I.
  • Mean and green? Magnum P.I.
Sorry Ed Begley Jr. and Al Gore (also junior). You're going be bummed when we pass your girly man Priuses in our 15-miles-per-gallon sports car, all the while smug knowing that we're green too. (We're going to design a piss-on-Priuses bumper sticker just to rub it in).

Well, it's a fantasy for now. But it looks like L.A.-based state Assemblyman Mike Gatto might have solved the age-old problem of how to drive a Ferrari and be eco-conscious at the same time.

He's got a bill, which just passed the assembly, that would authorize research into generating green electricity simply via roadway vibrations.

(In this scenario, it would seem, a rumbling V-12 would actually be greener than a silent-but-deadly Chevy Volt. Discuss).

It's called "piezoelectric technology," and it has already been used in Israel and Italy.

click to enlarge prius_chart.JPG

The bill would eventually authorize Caltrans to implement in on our freeways. Here's how it works, according to Gatto's office:

When a car or truck passes over pavement, the pavement vibrates ever so slightly. (You can feel these vibrations if you have ever stood on a road as a truck speeds by.) By placing relatively inexpensive piezoelectric sensors underneath a road, the vibrations produced by vehicles can be converted into electricity, which can be used to power roadside lights, call boxes, and neighboring communities.

The assemblyman says the tech can be integrated into roadways during regularly scheduled paving -- for maximum convenience.

"We have a chance here to generate power and revenue from one of our State's greatest assets: our roads," states Gatto.

We like it. Maybe it will help bring the monster SUV back.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]

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