Stand near a busy roadway and you'll be buffeted by gusts of wind as cars pass by. The majority of energy used in highway transportation goes to move huge volumes of air out of the way of our vehicles, not moving the vehicles themselves. So why not harness that energy and make it something useful?
That was the thought of Mark Oberholzer, who proposes installing small vertical-axis wind turbines inside 'Jersey barrier' highway dividers to drive electrical generation. "Opposing streams of traffic create really incredible potential in terms of a guaranteed wind source," Oberholzer says.
This is an idea that is still under development, but one proposed application would be to install these barriers in conjunction with a light rail system running in the median of the highway. "I love the idea of siphoning off electricity generated by private transportation to run public transportation." Using the power where itâ€™s generated, rather than redistributing it through the grid, avoids energy losses that occur during transportation and eliminates the cost of adding extra infrastructure."