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Name: Gregory
Status: student
Grade: 9-12
Location: IL
Country: USA
Date: N/A 


Question:
When a car or truck move down the highway they create a zone of low pressure behind them. Would it be possible to use a turbine to generate electricity using the pressure difference of the air in front,sides,or bottom of the vehicle, or would the drag of the turbine and generator negate any gains?



Replies:
Gregory,

Capturing useful energy is actually very easy. The hard part is capturing it in a cost-effective way. There are lots of sources of useful energy around us -- the problem is that it costs to much to use them. (electricity and gasoline are just too darn cheap!).

But to answer your question, yes you could capture energy from the moving truck. You could use a wind turbine, or piezoelectric arrays, or many other theoretical designs. The capture could influence drag on the truck -- depending on which energy capture strategy you use, the energy you save could be less than the extra energy you have to use to keep the truck moving. And, the cost of the energy capture equipment on the truck would also be a factor.

This illustrates the challenge with "theoretical" versus "practical" energy generation. You can capture energy from almost anything -- wind, trees, sunlight, water flowing, people walking around, etc. The question is how much does it cost to capture and use the energy compared with the alternatives (electricity or gasoline).

Hope this helps,
Burr Zimmerman



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