Development of Highway Sensing and Energy Conversion (HISEC) Modules for Generating Power, Phase I

The transportation infrastructure serves a critical societal need to rapidly move goods and people across the nation. Using this infrastructure as a source of renewable energy by harvesting it from the roadway is a relatively novel idea that has not been fully explored yet. This project is aimed at exploring energy harvesting from the roadway infrastructure and harness it to generate electrical power. Millions of lane miles subjected to solar heat and vibrations, combined with repeated strains under normal working conditions, make the roadway infrastructure a very good candidate for energy harvesting. This energy can be transformed using efficient systems into usable electrical power. Piezoelectric systems have shown promise for use in energy harvesting. The loads due to passing vehicles generate stresses that can activate these systems. High forces and dynamic motions by vehicles create a stream of impulses to the road structure that can be harnessed by road-embedded piezoelectric sensors to generate electric power. Incorporating these systems in pavement as energy harvesters is a challenging problem that has yet to be studied. Massive amounts of mechanical energy are wasted when millions of vehicles are moving on roadways. The piezoelectric systems can harvest that energy, feed it to the power grid, or save it in roadside batteries and utilize it to charge electric cars, power roadside or traffic lights. Furthermore. changes in the response of these sensors with time can be used as a means of monitoring the health of the pavement layers, where these sensors are installed. The Performing Agency shall develop piezoelectric systems to harvest usable energy from roadways. These systems also provide continuous monitoring of the roadways' conditions as they are embedded in flexible pavement layers. This monitoring will provide engineering data to assist in identifying the need for maintenance. The monitoring can also enable a "smart" road by potentially gathering real-time information on vehicle weight, speed and traffic volume. The proposed systems can be placed under asphalt layers during regularly scheduled repaving, and would not affect the vehicles traveling on the road, in terms of "road feel", fuel efficiency, or emissions. These systems can also be embedded under rail tracks and runways, providing real-time information on the health conditions of these structures and hence, improve traveler safety. This project will deliver a novel roadway energy harvesting system with the capabilities of storing electrical energy and also serve as an infrastructure monitoring mechanism. The outcome of this project will assist the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in overcoming the challenges of rapidly growing population and declining fuel tax revenues. The Performing Agencies have multi-disciplinary expertise covering material science, electronic systems, mechanical and civil engineering. The project will develop piezoelectric systems and investigate the potential benefits and the feasibility of using these systems to: a) harvest energy to generate useful power; b) monitor and diagnose roadway conditions; and, c) collect real-time traffic data.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Texas Department of Transportation

    125 E. 11th Street
    Austin, TX  United States  78701-2483
  • Project Managers:

    Glancy, Chris

  • Performing Organizations:

    Texas A&M Transportation Institute, College Station

    Texas A&M University System
    3135 TAMU
    College Station, TX  United States  77843-3135

    University of Texas, San Antonio

    6900 N. Loop 1604 W
    San Antonio, TX  United States 
  • Principal Investigators:

    Dessouky, Samer

  • Start Date: 20150317
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20160831
  • Source Data: RiP Project 39902

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01568862
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Texas Department of Transportation
  • Contract Numbers: 0-6871
  • Files: RiP, STATEDOT
  • Created Date: Jun 30 2015 1:01AM