Rewiring road pressure into power

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An aeroplane touching down on the tarmac means the end of a long flight for some, but for Clement Mokoenene, Engineer and CEO of Vehicle Energy Harvesting Systems, it sparked an idea: Could the energy expended by a moving vehicle be harvested to generate electricity?

Now Mokoenene is hoping that his idea, and the system that he developed to turn the idea into reality, will see him become the winner of the Chivas Venture competition.

As one of the top five finalists, he will stand a chance to win his share of $1 million, and the chance of a lifetime to represent South Africa in Chivas Regal’s Venture 4 finals to be held in 2018.

It all started in 2011 when he saw an A380 Airbus aeroplane land, “The smoke coming out of the plane when it landed was massive, like the runway was on fire,” he said. “That got me thinking about the pressure and heat a plane puts on the runway, and how it could be used.”

Mokoenene thought about ways in which to protect roads from this sort of pressure, and how to harvest this pressure in order to generate electricity.

“An indication of how much pressure the roads are under can be seen in all the potholes on our roads,” he says.

With a Civil Engineering degree from the University of the Witwatersrand, along with 20 years of experience, Mokoenene has created a means by which he can recycle the pressure on roads and turn it into usable and efficient electricity.

The Vehicle Energy Harvesting System works, says Mokoenene, by “installing an overlayer on existing road, extracting the pressure and transferring it to the side of the road, similar to a wind turbine that then creates electricity.’’

The VEHS is able to generate electricity at a much lower, affordable cost than coal-fired power stations which South Africa currently relies on.

Mokoenene says, “Winning the Chivas Venture award would put VEHS on the map. We are currently funded by investors and would like to fund our projects ourselves.” 

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