Roadside revolution in ‘green’ energy

Capture Mobility's roadside  turbine turns turbulence from passing vehicles into energy
Capture Mobility's roadside turbine turns turbulence from passing vehicles into energy
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Roadside mini wind turbines will both generate power and absorb pollution under plans by a Scottish-based entrepreneur.

Sanwal Muneer has already set his sights on using the technology for lighting the Forth Road Bridge and road signs.

The device works by converting air turbulence from passing vehicles into electrical energy, which is stored in a battery below the ground.

Solar panels boost its generating capacity, while filters capture harmful particulate pollution produced by diesel engines.

Muneer’s Edinburgh-based firm Capture Mobility is also discussing the potential for powering electric vehicle charging stations with councils such as Dundee and Perth and Kinross.

It follows the successful trial of a prototype eight-foot tall turbine on Riverside Drive in Dundee – the main entry road to the city from the west.

The turbine can generate enough power a day to run a small home, and is designed to work anywhere.

Muneer said: “I wanted to create something that could be scaled up easily, irrespective of geography and environment. Available renewable resources might not be efficient and reliable everywhere, so we need to come up with new ways to generate clean energy.”

He said the inspiration came from feeling the breeze created by cars at a Malaysian racetrack during a project to maximise the efficiency of electric motors in 2013.

Dr Waheed Afzal, a lecturer in chemical engineering at Aberdeen University who helped recommend improvements to the turbine, said the concept was “genius” and the device “very promising”.

Louise Arnold, of Interface, which put the company in touch with Afzal, said: 
“The environmental and energy credentials these turbines offer are game-changing.

“Capture Mobility has the potential to recast a known key polluter – traffic – as an energy source which could supply electricity to nearby grids or street lighting.

“This innovative project truly demonstrates what can be achieved when academia and industry come together.”

However, environmental campaigners were sceptical.

Friends of the Earth Scotland director Dr Richard Dixon said: “It would be a big stretch to call it renewable or clean energy, if it is being generated as a by-product of fossil-fuelled vehicles.

“It creates a perverse incentive if we are relying on polluting cars to tackle air pollution from traffic. The places where vehicles are moving fast are hopefully far from the public so the energy would need to be transferred to more usable sites.”