Passing cars to generate energy for new UK supermarket

Passing cars
"Kinetic Road Plates" are expected to generate 30 kW per hour, enough to power the store's checkouts. Credit: J Sainsbury plc.

A new grocery store in the UK opening today will generate energy every time a customer drives into the parking lot. Sainsbury's, located in Gloucester, is the first European store to feature "Kinetic Road Plates" - thin, flexible plates that capture energy as cars drive over them.

The system is expected to produce about 30 kW of energy per hour, which is more than enough energy to power the store's checkouts. As designer Peter Hughes of Highway Energy Systems explains, as a vehicle passes over the plates, the plates are pushed down by the weight of the vehicle. The pushed plates create rocking motions under the road's surface that turn generators, which is redirected back to the store. Drivers feel no disturbance when driving over the rounded-edge plates, and the system does not affect vehicles' .

"This is revolutionary, not only are we the first to use such cutting-edge technology with our shoppers, but customers can now play a very active role in helping to make their local shop greener, without extra effort or cost," said Alison Austin, Sainsbury's environment manager. "We want to continue offering great value but we also want to make the weekly shop sustainable. Using amazing technology like this helps us reduce our use of carbon and makes Sainsbury's a leading energy-efficient business."

The kinetic road plates are one of many energy-saving measures at the new Sainsbury's store. Other environmental features include harvesting rainwater to flush toilets, to heat up to 100% of the store's hot water during the summer, floor-to-ceiling windows and sun pipes in the roof to maximize natural light, automatic dimmers for electric lights, and retrieving cold air from refrigerators to keep the checkout area cool.

More information: www.j.sainsbury.co.uk


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Citation: Passing cars to generate energy for new UK supermarket (2009, June 17) retrieved 23 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2009-06-cars-energy-uk-supermarket.html
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Jun 17, 2009
KW is already a measure of power, so why does it have another time component?

Jun 17, 2009
Good point. Maybe they meant 30 kJ?

Jun 17, 2009
Where is this energy goign to come from if not from the cars engine?

Jun 17, 2009
Where is this energy goign to come from if not from the cars engine?

good point - that basically means more fuel consumption => more CO2 => more environmental damage

Jun 17, 2009
Maybe the plates drop slightly creating the kinetic energy, converting some of the forward-momentum of the car into rotational energy.. thus slowing the car a small amount?

Jun 17, 2009
Wow energy for nothing? Are they having a laugh? So if you reverse over it do you get some back?

Jun 17, 2009
cars weigh over a ton. they are using the weight of the vehicles.

30 kW/h = 30 000 watts generated per hour.

Jun 17, 2009
This will inevitably slow the cars down. I suppose if the cars are going to slow down anyway, for example if there's a bend then it's better to put the energy into the store than just waste it by heating up the brakes.

It's quite a lot of power though- it's an average of 40 horsepower.

Dig
Jun 17, 2009
Oh please people. You act like this device makes you burn a bunch of gas to get over it. You act like this is going to take a lot of money out of the customers pocket. Give me a break. If you look the picture, that plate is no more that 1/2 inch off the ground. Heck, I've driven over cracks in the pavement worse than that. The momentum of the vehicle can get a car over that easily. If people were truly concerned about gas and fuel efficiency, they'd try other methods that would save them a heck of a lot more money/gas such as driving the speed limit. I get 5-7 mpg more if I simply drive the speed limit.

I commend this business for at least trying and caring to be green. Not every answer is perfect but at least they care to actually do something.


Jun 17, 2009
Oh please people. You act like this device makes you burn a bunch of gas to get over it. You act like this is going to take a lot of money out of the customers pocket. Give me a break. If you look the picture, that plate is no more that 1/2 inch off the ground. Heck, I've driven over cracks in the pavement worse than that. The momentum of the vehicle can get a car over that easily. If people were truly concerned about gas and fuel efficiency, they'd try other methods that would save them a heck of a lot more money/gas such as driving the speed limit. I get 5-7 mpg more if I simply drive the speed limit.



I commend this business for at least trying and caring to be green. Not every answer is perfect but at least they care to actually do something.

It's great to see a post with some common sense.

Jun 17, 2009
30 kW/h is nonsense.

30 kW/h = 30 000 watts generated per hour.


This is sad reflection of the state of our educational system.

Watts are already a derivative of energy with respect to time. If you are generating one watt of power you're generating 1 joule of energy every second.

The only way to make sense of 30 kW/h is as an accelerating energy production, for each hour that passes your power generation increases by 30 kW. If you start at 0 watt you're expecting to generate as much power as a 1 GW nuclear reactor in just 3 years and 10 months.

Jun 18, 2009
This would be theft of energy except for the fact that you presumably need to slow down as you enter the store's parking lot, so as to avoid running over people and to get parked and all.

An interesting idea which points out as well as anything I've seen lately that the devil is in the details.

Properly done, this basically amounts to regenerative braking, just an external version rather than on-board like on a hybrid vehicle.

***

It's nice to see I'm not alone in the dismay over many writers showing no ability to grasp the whole power = KW and energy = KW-hr thing. Even physorg, sigh.

Jun 18, 2009
Soylent, I don't know how to respond to that - your statement makes no sense at all. I'll try to put it simply so you might understand....

kW h, or Kilowatt hours is the product of power in kilowatts and time in hours.

The electricity company where I live charges 18 cents per kW h, meaning they charge 18 cents for every hour you use 1 kW of electricity (a kilowatt is 1000 watts, btw) - if you have a 1000 watt heater running for 1 hour it will cost you 18 cents. Understand? This is how they measure electricity usage. Kilowatt hour, or kW h. It is equal to 3.6 megajoules.

Why don't you have a look at your electricity bill.

And have a look at this while you're at it...

http://en.wikiped...att-hour

Jun 18, 2009
Soylent, I don't know how to respond to that - your statement makes no sense at all. I'll try to put it simply so you might understand....


Then don't respond. You're clearly too incompetent.

kW h, or Kilowatt hours is the product of power in kilowatts and time in hours.


What does this have to do with ANYTHING? We're talking about kilowatts PER hour.

As anyone can see you yourself said: "30 kW/h = 30 000 watts generated per hour."

Either your reading comprehension is lacking or you're so embarrassed to admit that you said kW/h that you have to resort to lying.

The electricity company where I live charges 18 cents per kW h, meaning they charge 18 cents for every hour you use 1 kW of electricity (a kilowatt is 1000 watts, btw) - if you have a 1000 watt heater running for 1 hour it will cost you 18 cents. Understand? This is how they measure electricity usage. Kilowatt hour, or kW h. It is equal to 3.6 megajoules.


That's nice dear, but would you mind calling them up and asking what the take for a kilowatt PER hour?

Jun 18, 2009
If you go to Sainsbury's Gloucester store website

http://opening-ti...oucester

you will see that they are not a 24 hour branch so PERHAPS they are saying that sufficient energy is accumulated to power their check-outs with 30 kW over the 11 hour shopping day. There again PERHAPS the writer doesn't have her Physics "O" level.

Jun 18, 2009
Too true, Soylent. a "watt per hour" (watt/hr) is meaningless, unless it has to do with a change of power over time. A Watt-hour is the energy equivalent of running a 1 watt bulb over the course of one hour. Poor article writers :/

Jun 18, 2009
It's great to see a post with some common sense.


Not really.

In a normal shop the energy needed for running it is funded by the customer by adding a little on top of the price of the products.

In this shop, they get the this by borrowing a little energy from the cars of the customers by using this system.
So the customer can buy the products e bit cheaper but pays more for running the car.

But now the system has to be bought, installed and maintained and that has to be funded by ... indeed, the customer.

So now the customer pays 2 times for the energy and the electricity is now produced by inefficient engine in stead of an efficient powerplant.

So both the customer and the environment are worse off by using this system.

Jun 18, 2009
Micro theft is the wave of the future. If your car had regenerative breaking then you just got bitten by an energy mosquito.

Jun 18, 2009
You want energy from cars driving into your lot?

Well, just imagine this scenario: locate the parking lot on a decline. The cars come in on a movable long ramp initially held up by springs - the weight of the car would cause the ramp to descend and run a generator. Being a long ramp, the car would not have to stop and would continue and would not have to brake as much because the decline is not as severe as without the moveable ramp.

Practical problems aside - and yes there are many for this to be workable - if a plate raised by 1/2" generates as much energy as the article indicates, with a sufficient slope, this baby should make enough to power the market and sell back to the grid :-)





Are you stealing energy?

Not really, because the cars would have to use brakes to keep from speeding down the slope.








Jun 18, 2009
Don't parking lots have speed bumps anyway?

Jun 18, 2009
soil lint, my bad, but there is no need to shout, or insult your fellow man.

I did indeed put a slash where there should be no slash.

So you can walk away with your head held high knowing that you have won this online argument. You are indeed the chest-beating male monkey of far superior intellect, and I, the submissive monkey, will crawl away to the other side of the pen to eat my fleas, and watch you have intercourse with your harem of females, and bash all other male monkeys into submission.

As a positive side-effect of our little tete a tete I have learned something.... and I'm sure that it will give you a warm inner glow to know that you have saved me from the ignominy of ignorance as regards the Kilowatt hour.

Thank you, my friend, I have learned the error of my ways. My infinite gratitude goes out to you.

Much love, Paolo.

Jun 19, 2009
The only way this could avoid impacting cars' efficiency is if it's on a downhill slope or if the car is braking when it hits the plate anyway (and the car is not a hybrid.) Otherwise, it is false to call this system "green", and it is also taking a (trivial) amount of money out of the customer's pocket. Of course, speed bumps take a much larger (but still trivial) amount of money out of the customer's pocket. The whole article is much ado about pennies anyway.

Jun 20, 2009
So they're ripping you off before you even enter the store!

Jun 20, 2009
Technically, yes. :)

That kilowatt-hours convention ALWAYS bugged me. I guess it makes sense for the power companies to bill me in terms of their rate of production... but couldn't you just tell me how many joules I used in the month?! And charge me based on that? Or maybe eVs, just for shits and giggles? :)

Jun 21, 2009
One way to explain it to people is that electricity is like water coming out of a hose. The system needs to provide the stuff at the rate it is demanded, so the focus is often on generating capacity. But when it comes time to send customers the bill, you need to charge for the number of buckets they used. It is very awkward to talk about the flow rate and how often it flowed, but quite easy to count the total number of buckets over a month and simply charge by the bucket.

water : electricity
gallons : kilowatt-hours
gallons per minute : kilowatts

From which one can you see that the term 'hours' shows up in the opposite case, which is very much counter-intuitive for most everyone.

[Way to go paulo, nice post - I've seen a LOT of well-qualified engineers make the same mistake. I once had a Mech Engr'g professor spend an entire hour on this subject and end up confusing almost everyone by the time he finished. :-) ]

That portion of industry which deals with kilowatts is focused on amps and volts. Joules and J/s are rarely used as units.

Jun 21, 2009
electricity is generally measured in kWH. The cars are slowing down as they enter the parking lot, so the energy stolen would have been used to heat up the brake rotors.

Jun 22, 2009
There was an article some months back exploring this idea on street pavements and another on sidewalks(heat absorption. Whether they succeed or not, BRAVO! for trying to inspire something creative and clever (instead of twiddling their thumbs at a safe distance with negative condemnations).

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