A team of MIT undergraduate students has invented a shock absorber that harnesses energy from bumps in the road, generating electricity and smoothing the ride more effectively than conventional shocks.
The prototype shock absorbers use a hydraulic system that forces fluid through a turbine attached to a generator, with a (6-shock) heavy truck generating up to 6kW on a normal road.
That's enough power to completely replace the alternator in heavy trucks and military vehicles, and in some cases even run extra devices such as hybrid trailer refrigeration units.
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Big fuel savings
Shakeel Avadhany says they can produce up to a 10 per cent improvement in vehicle fuel efficiency by using the regenerative shock absorbers, and has calculated that Wal-Mart could save $13 million (£9 million) a year in fuel costs by converting its fleet of trucks.
"Simply put, we want this technology on every heavy-truck, military vehicle and consumer hybrid on the road," Avadhany says.
The students are doing a series of tests with a converted Humvee to optimize the system's efficiency, and plan to have a final, fine-tuned version of the device ready this summer.
They hope that it can be perfected in time for a military vehicle company to secure the expected $40 billion (£28 billion) contract for the new US army vehicle called the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV.