Is it Worth the Bump? A Story on the Advancements of Electric Speed Bumps

A year ago, Cenk and his friends were taking a little break from their usual lives in America and traveled to Rotterdam. It was during the summer when he and his friends finally had the chance to travel to their favourite cities. The city was a central hub for their brightly light up dance clubs and party centres. Financially, it wasn’t an easy trip. Before the trip, Cenk was recently hired by an electric grid company providing electricity for the Northeast region of Kansas City and ever since, he’s been getting a steady flow of income due to the high rate of electricity. Eventually he upgraded his car into the latest Porsche 918 Spyder Hybrid. All have been going well and he was given a two month vacation before electricity rates sky rocketed in the city.

Underneath the dance floor of the Club Watt was specially made to harness the kinetic energy of the people dancing including Cenk and his friends. It used piezoelectric technology under the floors to capture all the kinetic energy from the pounding, jumping, and every movement and vibration. Anyway, he freestyle to his favourite song and playlists made exclusively for the VIP’s. If he got to do this every day, it would help Rotterdam to cut 50% CO2 emissions by 50% by 2025. That wasn’t all, Club Watt made substantial savings on the consumption of energy. This wouldn’t have been possible if it weren’t for two years of planning, construction, and the indurate patience of Cenk.

Back home, waking up to the neighborhood of Mission Hills, the most sought after location in Kansas City to live in was a revivifying moment. That moment was definitely needed especially when you had to drive through the mazes of the neighborhoods just to get to his work at KCP&L. Cenk didn’t want to do things that he didn’t need to do because he was lazy. After wishing luck to his wife who was still in bed, he briskly ate and prepared to leave. He was motivated by thinking about his antagonized manager if he didn’t arrive on time.

The commute to work was always an interesting trip. Spilt drinks and irritating jolts of the seats were always present when Cenk’s hybrid went over the millions speed bumps laid all over the residential streets. It was also the main reasons for traffic congestions, vehicle and environmental damage. It was even worse when your car was a sports or luxury because every bump meant a significant strain or tear to the car’s suspension and chassis. The car’s suspension reacted like a surprised cat with a quick double thump while going over the accustomed speed bump that was invented three centuries ago in London.

There were five neighborhoods, a Burger King, the Civic Centre, and a few grocery stores between his house and work. Fortunately, traffic was steady most likely because it was all residential streets but it was definitely better than the freeways.

KCP&L was an investor owned, regulated electric utility that serves more than 800, 000 customers in 47 northwest Missouri and eastern Kansas counties. Cenk’s substation only supplied 1, 000 square miles but the whole service provides 18, 000 square miles, 3, 000 miles of transmission lines and 400 substations to deliver power to their customers.

He arrived anxiously to the office but today, Ana who was his manager had a different and delightful approach to Cenk.

“We have a new project and we’ve got new patents and we’re testing them out. They’ll be costing about $1, 000-2, 000 and we’re hoping to place them for more than 2 years. That should be enough time to pay itself,” Ana informed Cenk and left to instruct his co-workers.

Cenk had no idea what she was informing about but she had told him to find the total costs of the equipment and places to implement them around the substation. The radius of 30 square miles which covered Cenk’s neighborhood would soon be implemented by these “equipment”. There were also options for cheaper developing neighborhoods with the equipment.

He read the patent details, “Polymeric Material- 5cm above the street level”. Cenk was becoming more interested and curious about what he was working with. He had to do this for the next few years by analyzing costs, effectiveness, electricity income, and profits.

Not only utility companies such as KCP&L were trying these out, other companies who wanted to sell energy back or offset electricity costs were testing it out. This was something huge and had potential and Cenk wondered what could it be.

During the next week of Cenk’s commute to work and back, he realized there were more speed bumps than ever. There were no alternate paths and came to the conclusion that he had to endure the pain and go through. But this time there were something different about the bumps. They were shaped a bit more rigid than the conventional bumps that cost about $2,748 each. Basically, they had large mechanisms and electromagnetic generators under the roads. Soon they were about to be implanted into the road until the end of time.

At the intersection a few streets away from his house, there were four construction workers that blocked the shortest route to his house. Cenk was dumbstruck for a few seconds which felt like an eternity for him. Finally, the construction worker switched his stop sign to let him through through the alternative route.

“Are you kidding me? How many more are you going to plant these on the roads? These bumps are a waste of my money, your money, and we’re wasting precious fuel and time just to get over these!” Cenk complained with his window rolled down to the construction worker letting him through.

“Sir, another four of these ramps could generate enough electricity to power all the street and intersection lights for a mile long,” the worker patiently replied.

He didn’t have any more patience for the worker. As a result, he didn’t reply to the worker and sped off as fast as he could.

For one thing, everyone hated speed bumps. No matter what car you drove, it would drop your fuel consumption to 30.85mpg if speeds dropped to 20 from 30mph. This could also increase CO2 emissions by 10%, so if they don’t want people to drive dangerously than we’ll need to cause pollution.

Therefore, Cenk’s Porsche hybrid would have to slow down more often. That would result in the car’s regenerative braking to work more often but the intent of these “electric” speed bumps was the same but with a twist. Instead of the kinetic energy going to the brakes resulting in energy loss (heat), it would travel downward to the generator of the speed bump. This would run a rotor or a stator that generates electricity. Then it would be used right away or kept in storage for later uses, mostly at night.

There were even “safe bumps” that would collect energy and light up during the night so there would be no unexpected hits. The LEDs would outline the bump so going to parties at night were so much easier for Cenk’s weekly visit to the Kansas City Club.

What surprised Cenk was that about ten bumps would generate as much energy as a single wind turbine. Unfortunately, he didn’t understand why they would put these bumps and humps generating energy instead of gasoline electric generators. “Aren’t I paying for the gas? There’s no such thing as free energy in this idea” He told his wife who was more worried about their house’s energy usage.

“Don’t you think it’s a pretty cool idea? It’s innovative and even kids in Britain have already won support from Dragon’s Den investors,” his wife suggested.

Look, it might be a new idea, but it’s not like solar or wind alternatives. It’s counterproductive. One car running over these bumps could generate enough energy to power a light bulb for 9 hours but we need cars to do it for us,” Cenk countered.

“We Americans drive 6.3 billion miles every day. If kinetic energy that is generated is captured just once then it could power over a quarter million homes each day,” his wife argued. “If we do it twice per day then it could power more than half a million homes each day.”

He acknowledged her enthusiasm but Cenk needed some more data and changes to be convinced that these machines would work. He also found out that Club Watt back in Rotterdam was shut down due to cost and financial issues. It was the same idea as the bumps but instead of cars, they were using humans but it didn’t work out.

During the next few weeks, there were different types of electrical bumps added to the roads. It seemed that anyone with a patent could test it out on the streets. Down three streets was a grocery store so Cenk and his wife were there for their weekly groceries. Near the entrances and in front of the store were installed with kinetic road plates. These machines were sleeker looking and were basically flat but more interestingly, the plates generated enough power to run the store’s cash registers. Most of the time, that was their only way out, or they would’ve been arrested for theft. He started to realize that these annoying bumps could be powering lights and signs at tollbooths, rest areas, airport arrival and departure lanes, and parking lots. Some bumps used a series of panels that went up and down, setting a cog in motion underground. While other speed bumps used piezoelectric transducers. The transducers had a 100W of output when a passenger vehicle passed but the cogs produced 10-36kw of power when there was a steady stream of cars.

Cenk was a capitalist and he liked the fact that these bumps could be making money but at the expense of others car. On an hourly rate, the ramps could produce $1.37-4.95 of energy and these could be running up to 16 hours a day. Consider that into a year and you could be making $8025-28893. Of course Cenk wouldn’t use it all so they would need to be stored or fed into the national electricity grid.

The substation seemed to be doing well. They were steadily offsetting electricity costs and the electric bumps seemed to be successful for the few months. It was a matter of time before there were going to be any problems.

Without the highway, Cenk would’ve needed to spent a lifetime rambling through the streets and so would’ve everybody else. In that case, energy could be made on these roads but what would happen if a car going 130mph hits a speed bump? Cenk often thought about this because cars were supposed to go fast, at least that was what he thought when he bought his priceless and powerful Porsche. Fortunately, some of these ramps and bumps could be laid flat so drivers wouldn’t realize. Immediately, Cenk didn’t realize that he was contributing to the bumps and maybe helping the environment when he was on the road.

Fast food restaurants weren’t new to Cenk; in fact Burger King was his favourite fast food restaurant in the whole world. Recently, they’ve put a MotionPower speed bump for an experiment. About 100, 000 cars would visit that drive-thru each year. Instantaneously, it would be generating 2000watts when a car would be going through at 5mph so storing the energy right away would be a key part to the experiment. Everybody knew that Burger King was testing it out but nobody knew that they’ve actually helped out with the experiment including Cenk. These ramps were a two meters long and would only go up to a centimeter in height. This was a positive experiment and may be introduced to other fast food chains. Others thought this was a scam just so people would come to their stores because the entire bump was

Cenk felt that he had a different approach to the topic on road bumps. Now that he understood more about the capabilities of the electrical bumps and functions, he had some hope in them. With the decreased angle of the bump and that they could be laid flat, it didn’t seem to be a problem to Cenk anymore.

The movement had spread to places such as the Civic Center. With 580 cars streaming endlessly through the lots within 6 hours, it could power an average home for a day. When the Watt Club evoked Cenk’s mind, he started doubting again that this would progress into other cities. There were already thousands of people who disagree with this idea and boldly state that it’s a complete failure in the invention component. He would need to give his all on the project and see how it turns out. Take it or leave it, this invention only had two options that it could be headed towards.

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