140,000 miles of train track crosses through our country. The New York City Subway stretches over 842 miles. A local team of researchers have developed a way to put that to use. The team, from Stony Brook University, have developed a rail side generator that is able to convert vibrations of passing trains into usable electricity. Hit the jump for more…

Tat Wza

The most difficult part of developing the generator was dealing with the erratic vibrations of a train as it rolled past. Varying cargo from railcar to railcar results in irregular vibrations, which makes it hard to convert those up and down motions into the constant spinning required for a generator. But with specially developed one-way clutches, and the use of a flywheel to smooth things out, it’s estimated that the generators could easily produce enough electricity to power track-side machinery like gates, signal lights, and switches. And if New York installed around 10,000 of them, they could cut the state’s energy bill by half a million dollars.