242: Roadside wind turbine


More than 2.5 billion cars, most of which while using motorways generate unharnessed wind turbulence.


Roadside wind turbine

Pakistani engineer Sanwal Muneer was standing on the side of a Malaysian racetrack four years ago was inspired as to how the breeze from the racecars might generate energy.

The roadside wind turbine Muneer created stood 8ft (2m50) tall and was made of recyclable carbon fibre. The turbine weighed just 20lb. (9 kg), which makes it easy to transport and install. The fully-charged battery can hold a kilowatt of electricity, which is enough power to run two lamps and a fan for around 40 hours. The idea is that this turbine could supply electricity for rural communities in developing countries, or could be used to power traffic lights or road signs in urban areas.

Winning the UN Clean Energy Award in 2014, then funding from the 2015 Shell LiveWIRE programme, Muneer teamed up with Asad Liaquat, a friend since university days in Islamabad, Pakistan, when they were both studying electrical engineering, to found Capture Mobility to trial and commercialise his solution. Dundee, on the east coast of Scotland was the first local authority to allow Muneer’s company, to test the turbine beside its roads. Captive Mobility exhibited at at Ecoville during the 2018 Edinburgh International Science Festival.

Even more innovative is the Alpha 311 roadside wind turbine, developed by John Sanderson and Barry Thompson of Whitstable, Kent, England. Instead of its own pole, this can be retrofitted onto any lighting column or pole lining the central reservation of motorways.

While the first prototypes were made from drinks bottles in a shed in Whitstable, Tom the 2m tall Alpha 311 Mk.X was by from carbon fibre and recycled PET Trials showed it able to generate the same amount of energy as 21m² of solar panels.

The business plan: The turbines are not sold, but leased – but pay their way from the electrical energy gained by the local council – the electrical energy used can light the motorways making huge financial savings. Alpha 311 has already received requests for projects in India and New York.

Discover Solution 243: Silverlining

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