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Moving trains can produce wind power, but will it ever?

A speeding train produces tremendous gusts that can just as easily be converted into electricity.

Although nature does a mighty fine job of stirring up vast amounts of usable wind energy, humans whip up a fair bit it of themselves.

A speeding train, for instance, produces tremendous gusts that can just as easily be converted into electricity. A couple years ago, an Indian inventor named Santosh Pradhan proposed a modification to current trains that, according to his calculations, would have harvested as much as 10,000 megawatts of electricity each day from trains operating in Mumbia, a city in India.

Now designers from the firm Yanko Design have seized upon the same principle and developed a device that can collect wind energy from passing trains. The technology works similarly to a wind tunnel concept put forth last year by a team of Korean designers in which miniature turbine-based generators would be strategically placed at various spots along the walls of a subway train tunnel.

The device, called a T-Box, differs in that it is designed to be installed within the actual railing track itself. It consists of a durable metallic cylinder with vents, which allow air to flow through and rotate turbine blades housed inside. Yanko claims that a 1000 meter stretch of railroad can be retrofitted with about 150 T-boxes. Considering that a train barreling down at a speed of 200 kilometers per hour creates winds of roughly 15 miles a second, the T-boxes could generate 2.6 KwH of electricity.

But like many similar ideas, the T-Box currently exists in the pristine world of concepts where issues like debris, dirt and maintenance issues are absent, which isn't the case in the real world. So there's a strong likelihood that train passengers will never see one in operation.

To its credit, though, the T-Box concept did win a design award from the Taiwanese conglomerate Lite-On. So at least they're on the right track.

T-BOX-2010_liteonaward from jiangqian on Vimeo.

Photo: Yanko Design

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com