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.