T-box concept to capture wind energy from trains
As anyone living near railway tracks will tell you, speeding trains generate quite a bit of wind as they whoosh past. Industrial designers Qian Jiang and Alessandro Leonetti Luparini have come up with a device that's installed between the sleepers on a track, and as the train passes overhead, the wind drives a turbine to generate electricity. The T-box devices could be placed along railway or subway lines, and make good use of an otherwise wasted resource.
Unlike innovations such as the Solar Roadways project and Solar Wind concept, the T-box device wouldn't have to depend on a natural energy source, but instead one that is produced as a consequence of human activity. China's Jiang and Italy's Luparini reckon that about 150 of these devices could be installed along a kilometer (0.62 miles) of track and as a train speeds along, the turbines inside the device would generate electricity.
The designers say that the turbine is based on models produced by Hetronix, although the blades are obviously designed to rotate about a central axis within the cylinder housing. Much of the T-box would be below ground level with only the vent showing, and even though the wind produced by passing trains may only come in short bursts, installing them along a busy route should result in a decent amount of energy being produced.
Of course, keeping these babies clean and safe could be a problem. In addition to the dust and debris kicked up as the train speeds along or grime and grease deposits escaping from underneath, protecting such shiny boxes from the destructive hands of vandals could prove somewhat tiresome.
However, it's an appealing concept with huge potential for further development. The T-box design took silver in last year's Lite-On awards and was exhibited in Xuexue Institute, Taipei during the summer.
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Also, I would imagine that you are causing wind resistance.
@Abe: some subways run 24 hours a day 7 days a week, i dont know any other place on earth with as measurable a consistent wind as that. everything can be geared to that specific tunnel and the speeds they know they travel.
@Gadgeteer: i agree long distance trains would not be feasible. focus should be on subways... improvements always need to be made. But this is the first article on a new tech, why shoot it down before it is made better?
It will only be a tiny increase, but then again you will only produce a tiny amount of energy. Basically, people: YOU CAN\'T GET SOMETHING FOR NOTHING!!
If you use the heat of your feet to charge your mobile phone, you\'ll be cooling your feet, if you use the energy of your steps to do so, you will require more energy to walk, if you extract the energy of the vibrations of rails, you will introduce an extra elasticity in the system, requiring more energy for the train running on them!
Ultimately, it all comes down to the second law of thermodynamics - as always.
On train tracks, it would produce one super tiny amount of electrical energy, and would only pay for itself long after it turned to dust.
On subway tracks, this would also generate a tiny amount of energy, except that it would also increase the drag on the subway train.
The value of this is zero.
It seems to me that something like the Windbelt would be cheaper to manufacture, easier to install and potentially give you more energy. If the Windbelt was installed so that it was attached to the rail, you could get vibtations form both the rail and the wind.
As the train approaches, the rail would be vibrating long before the wind effect, resulting in 2-3 times more energy generated.