November 19, 2009
The bad news: the Whopper is still bad for you. The good news? All that kinetic energy going to waste when you pull your car through the drive-thru window will be put to good use.
At least, it will be at a Burger King in New Jersey. They’re experimenting with speed bumps that could actually harness enough energy to power half a million homes. Company officials say the energy collected could be routed right into the power grid.
Using a regenerative technology similar to that used in hybrid cars, metal plates in speed bumps are pushed down as a car drives over them. The movement of these plates can create kinetic energy, which translates to as much as 30 kilowatts per hour.
While this doesn’t exactly offset the emissions from either the cars or cows involved, it’s a step in the right experimental direction. The company who developed this prototype, New Energy Technologies, is eager to apply it to busy intersections, toll booths, and any number of other places that cars drive.
In the UK, tests are already underway with similar technology in supermarket parking lots and residential speed bumps. The collected energy is used to power nearby traffic and street lights, but could also be stored or fed into the local power grid.
Some have criticized Burger King for attempting to “greenwash” an unhealthy and ecologically unfriendly habit. But if people are driving their cars for a quick burger anyway, generating electricity from that is still bonus. Provided, of course, you don’t look the gift cow in the mouth.