One of the questions that always accompany any discussion of electric vehicles is how to offset the increased demands they will place on our existing -- and future -- power grid systems. Innowattech, a spinoff of Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, thinks it has found an answer in piezoelectric crystals. Piezoelectrics have the unique ability to generate an electric charge when "stressed" in some manner, whether by pressure, temperature or vibration. Innowattech's CEO Haim Abramovich says his firm has found a particularly efficient way to incorporate them in a device called the lnnowattech Piezo Electric Generator (IPEG). This month, his firm will start testing their effectiveness on a 100-meter stretch of four-lane road in Northern Israel. Using a series of IPEGs embedded just below the road surface, Innowattech hopes to reap the first large-scale "harvest" of about 400 kilowatts of electricity, power that can then be transferred into a grid system. If things go as planned, an even wider-scale evaluation of IPEG technology will be done in Ireland and the United Kingdom.
According to Abramovich, the IPEGs are ideally suited to their proposed power generating duties in any location that has a sufficiently heavy volume of traffic. They are relatively cheap and easy to install, require little to no regular maintenance, aren't restricted by climate or time of day and even offer the possibility of providing supplemental information on specific traffic patterns and road usage to the local municipal governments. Innowattech also has developed IPEGs for use in railway road beds and airport runways.