Skip to comments.Energy-harvesting shock absorber that increases fuel efficiency wins R&D 100 award
Posted on 07/14/2011 1:59:15 PM PDT by Red Badger
An energy-harvesting shock absorber that can be installed in a vehicles suspension system to absorb the energy from bumps in the road, convert the energy into electricity, and improve fuel efficiency by 1-8% has recently won the R&D 100 award. Nicknamed the Oscar of Invention, the annual award is given out by R&D Magazine to recognize the top 100 innovative technologies introduced during the previous year. Previous winners have included the ATM (1973), liquid crystal display (1980), Nicoderm anti-smoking patch (1992), lab on a chip (1996), and HDTV (1998).
The new shock absorbers were designed by Professor Lei Zuo and graduate students Xiudong Tang and Zachary Brindak at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, with funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). The development joins regenerative braking and other techniques that address the vast amount of energy wasted by vehicles. Although transportation accounts for 70% of oil consumption in the US, only 10-16% of the fuel energy is used to drive the car - to overcome road resistance and air drag. The rest is lost due to braking, vibrational energy dissipation, exhaust heat, and other inefficiencies.
Zuos team developed and patented two different types of shock absorbers: linear and rotational. The new linear shock absorber consists of a small magnetic tube with high flux intensity that slides inside a larger, hollow coil tube. The rotational version employs a compact motion magnification mechanism.
Due to bumps and vibrations from normal driving, the sliding tubes or rotating generator can produce an electric voltage. When installed in a medium-sized passenger car traveling at 60 mph, the shock absorber can generate 100-400 watts of energy under normal driving conditions, and up to 1600 watts on particularly rough roads. Trucks, rail cars, and off-road vehicles get a return of 1-10 kilowatts, depending on road quality.
The harvested energy is then used to charge the battery and power the vehicles electronics, which is typically 250-350 watts with optional electronic systems turned off. This energy reduces the load on the vehicles alternator, which usually has a capacity about 500-600 watts. In this way, the harvested energy could increase fuel efficiency by 1-4% in conventional cars and by 8% in hybrid vehicles. As a side benefit, the shock absorber also creates a smoother ride due to the ability to adjust the suspension damping and implement self-powered vibration control.
The electricity-generating shock absorber can be retrofitted into todays vehicles by replacing conventional shock absorbers - in which the vibration energy is wasted as heat - without modification of the vehicle suspension structure. The researchers estimate that the installation cost can be recouped in 3-4 years for typical passenger vehicles, and 1-2 years for trucks.
If just 5% of the 256 million registered vehicles in this country adopt this technology, we will create a market of over six billion dollars, said Zuo in a press release. The total energy we can recover per year from the suspensions is more than the amount produced by the Niagara Falls Power Plant.
Zuo added that the shock absorber is not yet commercially available, but the patent is ready for licensing. The researchers recently received a grant from the SUNY Technology Accelerator Fund to speed up commercialization.
More information: Prof. Zuo's handout and R&D 100 awards via: Asian American e-Zine
The shock absorber harvests energy from vibrations experienced by a vehicle's suspension system into electricity that can charge the battery and power vehicle electronics. Image credit: Lei Zuo
Auto Tech ping!.............
Sweet! Too bad they’ll cost about $500 each. /lol
I’ve often wondered why they couldn’t harvest energy from the wheels as the vehicle travels, at least to charge the battery on hybrids. Or maybe someone just hasn’t invented it yet...
I would think it would produce more than the shock absorber, but I’m no scientist.
Given the size of our potholes here in MN, I could use these and sell the surplus energy back for credit !
“Ive often wondered why they couldnt harvest energy from the wheels as the vehicle travels, at least to charge the battery on hybrids.”
Well, at least most boots have straps, so you can lift yourself up. ;^]
arvesting energy of a moving object will generally slow down that object. When you want to slow the object down anyway (like with brakes or a shock absorber) then you are either going to get heat or useful energy. Getting energy from the wheels when you are accelerating or holding a speed will be like driving with your brake pedal pressed.
I want to design some window glass which converts the energy Thumpy-McAnnoying's 1000 watt woofer to some useful form.
There you go again, using those old antiquated ‘Laws of Thermodynamics’.
Taking away energy from the wheels would be counterproductive to propelling the vehicle.
Regenerative braking is okay and is used in some situations...........
State controlled American media (SCAM) Headline?
President Obama adds Nobel Prize for Science to Nobel Peace Prize
President Obama Finds Solution to Gas Shortage
Properly inflated tires increase gas mileage, scientists surprised by 2008 discovery.
By reducing the load on the alternator, it reduces the load on the engine, so it does indeed increase m.p.g.
At least that’s the theory.
It's a damper not a shock absorber.
Extremely clever. Kudos!
Please tell us you forgot your sarcasm tag.
Like I said, I’m no scientist, but I think of it every time I see one of those ridiculous spinner hubcaps. I’m not talking about powering the car with these — just a little extra energy to help charge the battery.
I’m certainly not talking about the wheel itself attached to a generator or coil, or turning a generator — I’m a dufus, but not that big a dufus.
Our discussions have come true.
You really know how to be a party pooper. Just think about the green jobs......in China.
When I read this, I thought; OK here it comes. They are going to convert this to tons of carbon dioxide. Of course they don't tell you it's mass not weight. In any event they did not go there.
You Mythbusters fans. Remember the golf ball car test? 11% improvement just putting dimples in the car via a clay layer. If fuel was so damn important, how come we don't see dimpled cars?
Additional savings could be realized if the rear shocks were taller than the front shocks. That way the vehicle is always rolling downhill.
Okay, I can see where you would think about this. But those spinners work because of low friction. Those spinning wheels have momentum but no real amount of energy. Putting a load on them would just stop them.
Also, the generation of the spin of the that disk took energy that was "wasted" and due to the inefficiencies of the engine and drive train, more energy was consumed spinning the disk than could ever be recovered. It would be more efficient to remove the spinning disk than try to recover some of the energy.
That would violate the first law of thermodynamics. Running a generator from the wheels would increase the load on the engine.
The concept is in use for something, though. Hybrid vehicles employ “dynamic braking” that kicks in a generator to recharge the battery while slowing the vehicle.
*Stability Control; ALL new vehicles 10K lbs and under by 2012.
That would be a twofer- the more energy it converts, the more it will muffle the sound.
With this new shock absorber, Indiana will have some of the most energy efficient roads in the country! ;-)
There's a simple reason for that: the energy you would harvest running a generator would make it harder to turn the wheels. No free lunch there.
However, with the shock absorber, you have a design choice of whether to dissipate the energy of the up and down motion in the hydraulics, or to dissipate some of it electrically. By Lenz's Law, the power you draw out of the shock absorber coil will provide a reactive force opposite to that producing the energy. That energy can then be dissipated at a remote location, as in the charging of the battery.
that means you could put a cigarette lighter on the shock
Sort of. By it's nature, the current from the shock would be kinda bumpy. Since you'd want the lighter to have a nice steady heat, you'd run it off the battery; but the battery doesn't care if the recharge current is highly variable. That takes engine load off of the alternator.
smoke em if ya got em
You would think that physorg.com would know that the watt is not the unit of measure of energy. You can't generate watts. You can't store watts. You can't sell or buy watts. The unit of energy is the joule, not the watt.
They should have said, "...the shock absorber can generate 100-400 joules of energy per second under normal driving conditions..."
For the golfer who has everything.
A related idea I've often wondered about, which some rough number-crunching with Google would suggest should provide a useful efficiency boost, would be replacing the throttle with a turbine generator. A throttle on a vehicle serves no purpose but to waste energy in atmospheric-pressure air as it flows into an area of lower pressure. It converts this energy into heat, at a part of the cycle where the heat energy actually reduces efficiency even beyond the energy that was wasted producing the heat. Adding a turbine generator would provide some free energy which could be used for other things, and would also help cool the intake air, thus improving engine efficiency even beyond the free energy.
How would you stop it?................
Golf ball size...............
Dayton has a plan for that.
“joules per second” and “watts” are the same thing. What they should have said is “100-400 watts of power,” not “watts of energy”.
I would not expect it should be too hard to design a turbine which, when driving a load would let through lots of current at low voltage, would greatly impede airflow--probably sufficiently to avoid needing an extra 'series' throttle valve. For peak power situations there should be a bypass valve, and to allow for the possibility of the turbine failing in such a way as to let air flow unimpeded, there should be a runaway-prevention interlock on the fuel injectors (basically, if the engine is supposed to be throttled but that doesn't seem to be working, stop dispensing fuel).
I know, but the author made no reference to time. In fact, after I posted this, I went to the statement by Lei Zuo and he used the word power, not energy. Not even one in a thousand people understand the difference between power and energy. Even those who do tend to misuse the term 'power.'
Even Professor Lei Zuo says, "We estimated that for a middle-size vehicle, 100W, 400W, and 1600W of average power is available for harvesting from the regenerative shock absorbers..."
Even he messed up. You can't 'harvest power.' Power is a rate.
Sure one can. A process that harvests one joule of energy per second, harvests one watt of power.
LOL is that Ron Dennis?
Diesels are unthrottled.
They’re already there.
No, it harvests one joule of energy.
What if the electric company said, "We are going to give all of our customers 1000 watts of power for free!" People say, "Hmmm, that's pretty nice of them!" Then let's say you think you have somehow 'harvested' the 1000 watts of power. How much would it be worth? It isn't worth anything since there is no time given.
Electric companies sell energy. They don't sell power. It is listed as kilowatt-hours (energy) not kilowatts (power). They sell energy. You 'harvest' the energy from the wires that enter your house. You don't harvest power.
If you purchase let's say 700 killowatt-hours, you have 'harvested' that much energy. You have 'harvested' no power. Whether you purchased it by running a 1,000 watt appliance for 700 hours or ten 1,000 watt appliances for 70 hours makes no difference. They only care about Power times time.
They can't give you power, they can't sell you power. You can't take (harvest) power from them, you can't buy (harvest) power from them.
You keep calling this stuff, are you a reader or something???
Me, a reader? LOL
Doubtful. The cost of reworking the vehicle's electrical system would far outweigh any possible reduction in fuel consumption. You would also void a good portion of the vehicle's warranty and reduce its resale value due to extensive undocumented modifications.
Ron Dennis it is !