– to inspire a sustainable future!
Anyone who has stood next to a train pulling into a station can attest to the immense power it produces as it rattles along the rails. Scientists at Stony Brook University recently won a national award their mechanical motion rectifier (MMR)-based Railroad Energy Harvester – an invention that harvests electricity from the vibrations produced by railroad trains. The invention has the potential to save millions in railroad energy costs while reducing carbon emissions.
The U.S. has the longest network of railroad tracks in the world – it spans 140,700 miles in total. Many of these railways lie in remote areas where it is at times difficult to supply power to signal lights, cross gates, and railroad switches. The MMR-based Railroad Energy Harvester could capture the irregular oscillatory vibrations of railroad tracks and turn them into normal unidirectional motion, which can be harvested as electricity. The process is similar to the way in which an electric voltage rectifier converts AC current into DC. The invention could save the railroad industry a potential £6 million in trackside power costs in the state of New York alone while cutting CO2 emissions by 3,000 tons per year.