When you think of wind power, you think of giant turbines harnessing big breezes. But industrial designers in China have developed a device that can capture the wind created by trains as they whoosh down the track. The "T-Box" device is installed between railroad ties and buried half-underground so as to not interfere with normal train operation. As the train passes overhead, the whooshing wind spins a turbine inside the T-Box to generate electricity.
Creators Qian Jiang and Alessandro Leonetti Luparini say that 150 T-Boxes could be installed along a kilometer (0.62 miles) of railway or subway track to take advantage of the otherwise wasted wind resource.
A train travelling approximately 125 mph would produce a wind speed equivalent to almost 50 feet/second. The T-Box would capture this wind, it's turbines producing about 3,500 Watts of power. If the train was about 656 feet long, travelling around 187 mph and passing over that 1 km (.062 miles) stretch, the T-Box could produce about 2.6 kilowatts of power.
The device could potentially provide electricity to remote and underserved areas or to facilities along the railway.
Designers say the turbine in based on models manufactured by Hetronix, with blades rotating about a central axis inside the T-Box's cylinder housing. Much of the device would be below ground, with only the vents exposed to let in the wind
Image: Robin MacDougall