Research Project Information

Research Project Summary Information

Energy Harvesting from Railway Vibrations for Trackside Electrification(25537)

Research Foundation of SUNY


The railroad transportation industry, including commuter rail and subway, plays a very important role in the economy and quality of life. As demand for rail increases, the need for signal lights, road crossing gates, wireless communication, and train and track monitoring, continues to expand. Since a significant portion of rail is in underground tunnels, on bridges, or in remote areas, it can be difficult and cost-intensive to electrify this infrastructure. Lack of cost-effective electrical supply can lead to the absence or failure of railway electrical infrastructures resulting in service disruptions, inefficient transportation management, or train accidents.

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Project Description

This project aims to develop and test an advanced energy harvesting device for railway track vibrations to meet regional and industry-wide need of access to cost-effective and reliable power supply for trackside electrical infrastructures of rail transportation. The contractor will design and integrate an innovative mechanical motion rectifier, flywheel, electric generator, power electronics and energy storage device to produce high-quality DC power up to 100-300 watts from the irregular and pulse-like track deflections caused by trains traveling over the track. Two technical innovations will be focused in this project: (1) designing a unique “mechanical motion rectifier” that changes the irregular up-and-down track vibration into regular unidirectional rotation of the electrical generator, and (2) synergistically integrating the flywheel into the energy harvesting system to further increase energy conversion efficiency and stable power output.


The potential benefits to New York State include potentially millions of dollars in cost reduction for trackside power supply, annual electricity saving, and CO2 reduction. It could also strengthen existing electrical supply and accelerate deployment of more safety infrastructures, track monitoring sensors, and new control position and control devices without costly wiring along track corridors, even in remote areas and in tunnels.

Project Results


Research Foundation of SUNY
Office of Sponsored Programs Attn: Anne DePietri
Stony Brook, NY 11794

Principle Investigator

Lei Zuo

Universities Involved

SUNY Stony Brook


Project Type:

Product Development

Technologies Types:


NYSERDA Contact Information

Jason H. Doling


R&D -Transport & Power Systems

Contract Details

Start Date: 9/24/2012
Project Status: Active
Contract Number: 25537

Last Updated: 10/22/2013