Calif. Bill Seeks Use Of Piezoelectric Technology

By Scott Doggett September 12, 2011

A bill sent to California Gov. Jerry Brown for signing would instruct the California Energy Commission (CEC) to research the possibility of using piezoelectric technology in the state's roads and railways to generate electricity from passing cars, trucks or trains. Assembly Bill 306, which was approved by the state Legislature last week, would also require the CEC to develop a pilot project if it deemed that the technology had potential for use in California. The science works as follows: By placing piezoelectric sensors underneath a road, the vibrations produced by passing vehicles can be converted into electricity. In 2009, the East Japan Railway Company installed piezoelectric flooring in their Tokyo railway station and use the energy generated by passing pedestrians to power all of the displays in the station.

Piezoelectric.jpgIsrael employs the technology under some of its highways. Italy will use the technology along a stretch of the Venice-to-Trieste Autostrada. A dance club in San Francisco put piezoelectric sensors under its dance floor to run lighting. "Thirty years ago, who would have believed that black silicon panels left in the desert could generate 'solar' power," the bill's author, Assembly Member Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), said in a statement. "And just 10 years ago, people were incredulous when you described a Bluetooth device. This technology is very real, and it merits further study." Gatto's bill would tap into money already set aside for green-technology funding -- a fact that improves its chances of being signed into law in a state with serious budgetary problems.

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