Kinetic Energy Generation for Transportation Use: Feasibility Study

Focus Area



Air Quality






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

Wherever there is the motion there is the possibility of producing kinetic energy. The heavier and more consistent the motion – the more energy is produced. This concept can be applied to the on-road and off-road transportation sector. The capture, storage and generation of kinetic energy can be accomplished in various ways. For purposes of an on-road application, the system is most productive when vehicles (cars, trucks, buses) are decelerating. When a car is in operation, not all of the energy generated by the fuel goes to moving the car. In fact, only 14 percent to 26 percent of the energy from the fuel is used to actually move the vehicle down the road depending on the drive cycle. Most of the energy is lost to engine and driveline inefficiencies. However, energy is also lost due to rolling resistance (5 percent to 6 percent) and braking (4 percent to 5 percent). This is where kinetic energy can be harvested, converted into electricity and used on site or be sent back to the grid for use elsewhere. This technology could be utilized at various transportation-related facilities including bus depots, travel centers, toll plazas, distribution/warehouse facilities, and weigh stations. The electricity generated could be used to light, heat or cool the facilities, run facility display signs and other electronics, charge electric vehicles at these facilities, or be sent back to the grid, creating a revenue stream for State DOT’s, transit agencies or other owners of the facilities. The application of kinetic energy for use in the transportation sector can produce a “zero emission” renewable energy source, which would help to decrease both criteria and greenhouse gas emissions generated by vehicles as well as decrease the nation’s dependence on petroleum. Expected Outcomes: • Gather and analyze data and information regarding where kinetic energy generation could be optimally utilized in the transportation network and provide visualization of data in a GIS or other mapping utility; • Estimate the amount of electricity that could be generated from various applications; • Develop a cost/benefit analysis, including the possible tradeoff of reducing regenerative breaking sources of electricity; • Estimate the amount of revenue that could be generated selling the electricity and the potential energy savings associated with using the energy on site; • Provide examples of business plans for facility owners and/or operators; • Provide examples of public-private partnership agreements between facility owners/operators, utility companies, and other stakeholders; • Identify potential barriers (including legal); and, • Identify potential impacts on highways operations and safety. 1

Urgency and Payoff

The outcomes of this feasibility study could provide state and local transportation agencies with needed information regarding the use of kinetic energy to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector.

Suggested By

Diane Turchetta US DOT-FHWA 202-493-0158

[email protected]