New Jersey highways to be used as a power source, Governor made an offer he couldn’t refuse

New Jersey highway turbines
Bada bing! Check out this new proposed source of renewable energy, now funneling through the industrial rumor pipes of good ole’ New Jersey. With the *ahem* untimely “accident” that NJ Governor John Corzine recently was involved with, it seems that big plans are already being devised in the “sleep with the fishes” Garden State. New Jerseyians, or New Jersites. Or however you say it, are planning for wind turbines powered by the breeze generated from the renowned Jersey highways, to help reduce the amount of electricity being used.

The big shocker of this story? The wind turbines won’t be built on the side of the highway. They will be built in under the road. Of course, with the added traffic needed to produce enough energy, the skies will become more ash colored than blue. Oh, and of course there’s this whole issue of petroleum running out eventually. But hey, we’re no ecologist. And we really, really don’t want to wind up whacked.

New Jersey highway turbines
via Metropolis Mag


About the author: Andrew Dobrow




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  • Someone Intelligent

    These are wind turbines in ‘jersey barriers’ you numbnut. aka ‘new’ jersey barriers.

    Go put on some plastic and big hair…

  • Someone Engineerish

    Interesting concept, but will the barriers then be able to still perform the job that “Jersey” barriers are there for in the first place?

    They were primarily designed to prevent fatalities associated with traditional guardrails. The two angles are intended to turn a vehicles wheels and to deflect a vehicle striking them back into its own side of the road to prevent vehicles jumping into oncoming traffic, and to prevent vehicles catching on the barrier and spinning back across traffic or flipping.

    This looks like it would entirely defeat the purpose of the safety barrier, as there would not be a lot of integrity there to prevent it from deforming on impact and catching a vehicle enough to destabilize it.

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  • blah

    To “someone engineerish”, the concrete blocks were designed to not knock over, to take up small space, and to block things.

    Sadly, they are not specifically designed to deflect cars well, and as such many cars who hit them and up flipping (bad plan). There are much improved blocks in existence, but these are the “dumb standard”.

  • Rich

    This is junk science, just like global warming!

    You are just increasing the friction of the cars as they pass. You are displacing the power generation with less MPG to every motorist.

    I would like to hear what a real aerodynamacist’s review of this would be.

    -RJH Instrument Rated Pilot

  • http://none Another Engineer

    This isn’t renewable energy. What is ultimately happening is, you are sapping energy from the cars passing by. The “wind” is produced by the cars going by, and they all collectively benefit from the fact that they all go in the same direction. This reduces drag and increases gas mileage.
    Now, if you remove some of that wind by putting turbines in its path, you reduce the amount of wind, and increase the drag on the cars, reducing gas mileage of the cars.
    Its the same reason as why we don’t all have windmills on our cars.
    Overall, the system is less energy efficient.

  • Empty

    If it does sap energy from passing cars, that effectively puts some of the cost of public transit onto the shoulders of the people not using it- which is precisely what gas taxes do. The difference is that this will be a large installed base of machinery that will have to be maintained, versus power infrastructure which is typically a “Set and forget” kind of operation.

  • cosinezero

    I’d like to see someone prove this would be worse for aerodynamics than the solid concrete blocks are. I’d wager that the dissipation of vortexes coming off the cars and off the existing barriers would improve aerodynamics, not make them worse. You’re claiming the car pushing air against a turbine is going to have more resistance than the car pushing air against concrete… I don’t buy it.

  • simon

    i think this is an example of quite a general principle; you can improve the overall efficiency of a system by integrating subsystems, ( like; why not plumb the waste heat from the back of fridges/freezers into pre-heating water for a hot water tank.), but you can create cross-dependence that can cost you loads in capital through reducing flexability, in this case having to rebuild the railway if the cars go somewhere else. so it comes down to how likely things are to change, in this case it doesn’t seem too bad.

  • Network Engineer

    Ok so I’m not a mechanical engineer but I have common sense: If the turbines are not directly in front of the car, they are not affecting the forward wind that helps the car’s gas mileage. The wind being harnessed is far enough away from the cars that you might as well argue that a wind farm is sapping energy from the exhaust fan in my range hood.

    The turbines described in the article are *inside* the barrier. Aside from my doubts that enough wind motion would get through the barrier’s grill to be useful, at the very least it’s clear that the turbine barrier won’t affect friction any more than any other barrier with a non-smooth surface, such as ones with those paddles sticking up to block headlights from the opposing traffic.

    That said, I still think it’s a ridiculous idea to compromise the barrier’s primary function of being a BARRIER.

  • mace

    In a way this sounds like taxing; instead of gathering a share of all the money people get and spend, a share of the energy they use is gathered and used for something else instead (say, a train).

    If a system will give less miles per gallon for the drivers, they might convert to some other, better way of transportation. Driving a car must be made less efficient and convenient all in all, to encourage people to alternatives. Remove parkingspace in downtown and residental areas, make traffic less fluent, lower the price of public transportation, environmental education and so own.

    I fail to take seriously drivers who accuse other transportation methods of energy inefficiency :^)

  • Zhanate

    For the record, it’s Jon Corzine.

  • STFU

    Consider the increased drag a new kind of toll collection.
    If you lift the stop and pay tolls and use this instead as a means of making drivers pay for using the tke, is that such a bad tradeoff?

  • Andrew Dobrow

    Thanks for the help everyone. Good thing that I’m totally oblivious to others opinions. Nonfactual or not, it stays. Huzzah!

  • logicisfun

    If they implement the train as public transport taking the same route as the road. Would not the people using the train be people who normally would have used the road? So then they would have the energy cost of the train, plus t0eh energy cost incured by the loss of the people who use the train. Doesnt sound feasible to me.

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  • http://none Josh

    I just saw something similar on one of those science/discovery channels the other night. The only difference was that the darius turbines were positioned horizontally above the roadway (similar to how exit signs are mounted) so that they wouldn’t interfere with the middle divider. I thought that was a better idea, rather than use the guard rail divider.

  • Uduhman

    Duhs this mean…

    1) The elevated tram runs only when highway traffic generates enough electricity?
    2) The “New Numbnuts Barriers” will be modular therefore serviceable when traffic accidents render them inoperable?
    3) Auto driver’s involuntary energy contributions will be tax deductible?

    Well… duhs it?

  • OTétano

    This is pretty stupid. As a mechanical engineer I can say that the energy gathered by the turbines is coming mostly from the cars (in a very inefficient way). It would be better to put the wind turbines up on poles and gather the wind energy and then burn some fuel to generate the amount that was coming from the cars. And, network enginner’s common sense is just that – common sense. By using the wind generated by the cars (and the turbines don’t have to be directly in front of the cars – that’s basic fluid mechanics), you are actually reducing air speed around them, thus increasing the relative wind velocity (the mesured wind velocity relative to the cars), making the cars spend more fuel.

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  • Bill Maher

    Why not put all New Jerseyans on treadmills, put a book in front of them while they walk on the treadmill, and maybe they’d both produce power AND learn something (maybe how to pronounce English words properly) at the very least?

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