New device harvests energy from railway track vibrations

Much of the abundant mechanical energy around us is irregular and oscillatory and can be somewhat difficult to efficiently tap into. Typical energy harvesting systems tend to be built for low power applications in the milliwatts range but researchers from New York's Stony Brook University have developed a new patent-pending electromagnetic energy harvester capable of harnessing the vibrations of a locomotive thundering down a stretch of track to power signal lights, structural monitoring systems or even track switches.

As a train rolls down the track, the load it exerts on the track causes vertical deflection. This displacement could engage a regenerative device like an electromagnetic harvester and generate enough power to operate local railway applications, which is especially useful in remote areas where electrification is not cost effective. Harvesting such energy is much more efficient with regular, unidirectional motion, but track vibrations caused by a moving train are pulse-like, bidirectional and somewhat erratic.

Source: gizmag.comAdded: 11 January 2013