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Driving electricity into the grid


September 14, 2010
by Noelle Stapinsky, Features Editor

The KinerBump inset unit at a bus station.

Kinergypower

Inventor Stefanos Horianopoulos recently spent 11 years as a robotic welder at the now shuttered Welland, Ont. John Deere manufacturing facility, and during his time there he dabbled in tidal energy capture technology with his brother in Greece.

After 10 years of testing and prototyping the wave technology, bringing it to Canada became an issue. “Due to the unpredictability of the weather, how the water behaves and that the lakes freeze [in the winter], it was creating difficulty,” says Horianopoulos.

That led to other ideas. How about putting wind turbines near highways to harvest energy from the force of the vehicles cruising by?

But like the apple falling on Newton’s head, Horianopoulos was jolted with yet another idea.

“While we were doing testing on alternative energy methods, I was driving my car and hitting potholes and cracks in the road. [I thought] if we put a hydraulic piston under the wheel of the car, we can take that energy and make electricity.”

In 2004, Horianopoulos and his brother Dimitri formed KinergyPower to take this concept to the next level as a working technology.

The idea was to use mats or speed bumps, applying the same principles as those that apply to tidal energy capture (which also employs hydraulic pistons to generate electricity) and place them on road areas where there is heaving braking, such as off ramps to service stations and bus terminals.

During testing, there were many prototypes and trials as they attempted to predict traffic flow and the weight of vehicles.

Bump power
“Finally after four years we got the patent in the US. We’ve also applied for patents in Canada, Europe and Asia, but after getting the patents in the US, the other countries tend to follow,” he says.

The flat pavement application is branded KinergyPower Carpet and its speed bump application is called KinerBump.

The carpet can be installed on any paved surface and the KinerBump, anywhere speed bumps are currently required.

Essentially, when a vehicle passes over the device, its weight and momentum pushes the pistons, forcing fluid through a line to drive a hydraulic motor. The energy from the motor powers a generator that creates electricity that’s fed into the grid.

The power created from this process is substantial. For example, if 3,000 transport trucks passed over a KinergyPower device with 1,000 hydraulic piston activation points on a daily basis, it would create more than 25,000-kilowatt hours—enough power to supply 1,000 homes.