Electricity + Control January 2018


Renewable Electricity From Traffic!

Clement Mokoenene, Epitome Consulting

E lectricity is our life blood while traffic seems to exist only to bring a tortuous conception of inconvenience. However, witnessing the landing of an A380 Airbus aeroplane back in 2011, set off an amazing journey that culminated in the discovery of an unlikely but crucial link between traffic and electricity, namely, pressure. Reviewing the work we have done over the past seven years and analysing the results we have achieved, we cannot help but wonder if this is potentially the ulti- mate missing link in our own development. Did the invention of the wheel bring with it an artificial en- ergy source, namely, roads? This article examines this question closely and attempts to answer it us- ing empirical evidence from our field work, thus far. The millions of value-chain activities involved in the generation of our base-load electricity, set- ting-up and running mines and power stations and their associated politics, are all aimed at the sole objective of creating pressure which is then used to drive a turbine and generate electricity. It then begs the question: Is there an easier way of creat- ing pressure? On the other hand, automobiles, ow- ing to their colossal weights and sheer numbers, transfer terrifying quantities of pressure onto the roads. That roads are extensive wells of pressure is nothing new; the Boussinesq Theory and Equation (1885) and the E80’s Axle Loading Calculation Meth- od (also from the early 1800s) reaffirm that roads contain massive pressures and both methods give the basis for calculation of this pressure. Our lives as road engineers are dedicated to the protection of the roads from the devastating effects of these excessive pressures on the roads themselves – if we do a sub-standard job in protecting roads from these pressures, we end up with roads riddled with potholes, ruts, cracks and other failures. However, it was not until that fateful day in 2011, that my mindset shifted from just protecting the The urban life has two seemingly unre- lated but predictable certainties, name- ly high electricity demand and unbeara- ble traffic congestion.

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