California’s Freeways Are a Future Power Source

After all the times we’ve cursed the world while snarled in traffic on the 405, who knew we were sitting atop a precious energy source?

Assemblyman Mike Gatto, that’s who.

For years, Gatto has been pushing California to adopt a groundbreaking technique that converts the vibration of cars over a highway into renewable energy. Now he’s finally gotten his wish, with the California Energy Commission agreeing to fund multiple pilot projects in the Golden State.

The technology uses Piezoelectric crystals like quartz which give off an electrical discharge when compressed. They'll be embedded in the highways with the vehicles acting as the compressors. The resulting electrical currents can then be harvested to service the grid. 

According to Gatto, the power generated from a one mile stretch of a two lane highway could eventually power 500 homes for an entire year or 120 electrical vehicles a day.

If this all sounds too good to be true, you should know it’s already shown great promise in Israel and Japan. There’s even a nightclub in San Francisco using Piezoeletric crystals to power its dance floor!

"Thirty years ago, no one would have believed that black silicon panels in the desert could generate 'solar' power," Gatto said. "Piezoelectric technology is real, and I am glad the state has finally acknowledged its potential in becoming an energy source."

Read more about the pilot program here.