A team of mechanical engineering students from the State University of New York has found a way of recovering the vibrational energy from vehicles as they speed over road bumps. Currently, they are developing a regenerative shock absorber that converts this energy into electricity. Their 1:2 scale prototype generates 2-8W of power in usual driving conditions at a speed of about 45mph. If the same mechanism is applied to all four wheels, the car may go on to generate up to 256W of electricity.
Consisting of two tube-like components, the shock absorber has a smaller magnetic tube that slides inside a larger, hollow coil tube. Copper coils wound around a plastic delrin tube make the coil component, while various ring-shaped magnets, separated by ring-shaped magnetically permeable spacers, create the magnetic tube. Vibrations in the suspension make the coil tube follow the magnetic tube’s movement. Later, the voltage generated by moving copper coils can recharge the car’s batteries.