SBU Team Wins 2011 R&D Award for Energy-Harvesting Shock Absorber Technology
A team team of researchers headed by Lei Zuo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering won a prestigious R&D 100 Award—dubbed the “Oscar of Invention”—for the development of an energy-harvesting shock absorber that converts vibration, bumps, and motion experienced by the suspension of a vehicle or train into electric power. The regenerative shock absorber for cars can harvest over 100 watts from the vehicle vibrations under normal driving conditions.
R&D Magazine’s annual R&D 100 Awards recognize the 100 most technologically significant product innovations developed throughout the world and introduced into the marketplace over the previous year. The awards have long been a benchmark of excellence known to industry, government, and academia as proof that the product is one of the most ground-breaking of the year.
Dr. Zuo’s electricity-harvesting shock absorber continuously harvests vibration energy—from hundreds to thousands of watts—from the vehicle’s suspension vibration that is currently being dissipated into heat waste by the conventional oil shock absorbers. The harvested energy is used to charge the battery and power vehicle electronics and thus reduce the load of the alternator and the engine, improving the fuel efficiency of the vehicle by two to eight percent. The energy harvesting also provides further opportunity to enhance the ride comfort and road safety by adjusting the suspension damping or implementing self-powered vibration control.
“If just five percent of the 256 million registered vehicles in this country adopt this technology, we will create a market of over six billion dollars,” continues Dr. Zuo. “The total energy we can recover per year from the suspensions is more than the amount produced by the Niagara Falls Power Plant.”