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Project Dates
08/01/2012 - 09/30/2014
Principal Investigators
Project Status

The highway transportation plays a very significant role in the nationwide economy and society development, including in UTRC2 area. For the routine traffic management and future planning of the highway infrastructure and other transport systems associated with it, a reliable traffic monitoring system is highly needed along the highways. Inductive loop is the most widely used method for the real-time traffic information nowadays. However, the cost-effective, convenient and reliable power supply needed for the traffic monitoring system is still a big challenge. The challenge is due to not only the fact that the transportation sector consumes almost one-third of the nation’s energy, but also the fact that the transportation system covers such a large portion of the nation’s surface area. Providing traditional power supply (such as grid power) is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to certain areas such as in remote regions, where the installation and the maintenance processes are inconvenient and costly. For extreme events, such as earthquakes and hurricanes, the traditional power supply system may be broken down. Under this circumstance, the real-time traffic information can be very helpful for the rescue management and the safety of human beings. Therefore, emerging techniques such as energy harvesting from highway vibration provides a new direction to solve current challenges for the need of a selfpowered, economical and reliable power supply for the traffic monitoring of highway transportation system in the UTRC2 area, as well as the whole nation.

The objective of this project is to develop a sustainable solution of on-site energy to the critical challenge and power demand for traffic monitoring systems, by harvesting the energy from the road using smart motion mechanism. When the vehicles travel on the harvesting device, the mechanical motion will be converted into electrical energy, and then stored in the super capacitor or secondary rechargeable battery to power the traffic monitoring systems. The proposed system is expected to continuously power the traffic monitoring sensors (i.e., inductive loops, etc.) without external electrical energy, which reduces or eliminates the dependence of traffic monitoring systems on batteries or grid power. The significant impacts include: First is to dramatically reduce the highway maintenance cost and improve traffic mobility by extending the life cycle of traffic monitoring sensors eventually to the pavement life. Second, the success of the proposed project will enable traffic sensing and communication in remote areas, which is currently a big challenge. Third, in addition to the harvested energy, the proposed project will also bring benefits to the environment since the deposit of large quality of batteries may also lead to serious environmental hazard. Fourth, the energy harvesting system is capable of detecting and monitoring vertical pavement loads, which will provide timely information for the pavement design and maintenance.