The idea of a train being able to utilize its very infrastructure to generate electricity is very fascinating. Generating power by harnessing the wind energy created by fast moving trains is not an idea that may occur to the average researcher. However, two industrial designers- China’s Qian Jiang and Italy’s Alessandro Leonetti Luparini have managed to develop a device that produces power by utilizing this unique form of wind energy. The design won a silver award at the Lite-On awards last year
What is the T-box?
The T- box is a power generated device that harnesses wind energy as trains run over railroad tracks. This alternative form of wind energy produced by trains is very unique, as it does not depend on any natural energy sources. Instead, the energy generated from this device is produced as a consequence of human activity.
The T- box device generates energy without any interference of the normal train operation – the device is installed between railroad ties, and is partially buried underground. As the train passes over the device, the wind generated from the train spins the turbine inside the T- box to generate electricity.
The T- box contains all the mechanical components required for harnessing, storing and supplying converted power. Hence, the power generated from this device can be supplied to public facilities along the railway and also to remote areas where electricity has not yet reached.
How much power can the T- Box generate?
A train moving at 125mph would generate a wind speed equivalent to 50 feet/ second. Wind blowing with such speed will let a normal wind power generator harness about 3500W of power. If a train is about 656 feet long, running at the pace of 187mph, and it moves along a 0.62 mile railway track in about 18 seconds, the power generated in this small period by the T- boxes laid on the tracks will be 2.6KW.
Qian and Luparini estimate that about 150 T-box devices could be accomodated along a 0.62 mile railway track.
Installation of the T- box
To fit the T- box on the tracks, some work has to be done on them:
- Firstly, concaves have to be constructed in cement between each of two sleepers
- Two brackets then have to be placed on two sides of the concaves
- The brackets have to be examined to ensure that they are well fixed
- The T-box is then set upon the maneuvered tracks
Is the T-box eco friendly?
The T- box has so far been considered quite environmentally friendly. The T- box does not produce any harmful chemicals nor has it been proven to have any other side effects thus far.
Keeping the T- box devices clean can pose great problem. As the train passes, quite a bit of dirt and debris will be kicked up, and will land on the upper surface of the T- box. Also, grease and grime deposits escaping from underneath will contribute to contaminating the device.
Future of the T- box
As the hunger for alternative forms of energy continues, the T-box has generated hope. This device presents a new generation of wind power generators, and has created quite a sensation among techno buffs. However, it is important to remember that the design is still in the conceptual stage and has not taken into account all of the preservation and maintenance issues that are likely to pose a problem in any future use of this device.
Chels Nixon on March 06, 2017:
What type of turbine is used.....???
Can you specify the exact name of it..?
Anna Sternfeldt from Svenljunga, Sweden on February 17, 2013:
This was very interesting! I would be very interested in knowing how this technic proceeds.