Ultra-High Power Density Roadway Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting System

Designing a piezoelectric roadway energy harvesting system to capture energy from passing vehicles.

University of California - Merced


Merced, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Update

The project has completed design and fabrication of a batch of multi-layer piezoelectric generators, and has conducted laboratory evaluation of the prototype. The prototype design was revised and improved, resulting in a promising relationship between the loading and displacement of the piezoelectric unit. An order to purchase 200 piezoelectric generator towers was issued and the project team has fabricated mechanical parts for 100 piezoelectric generators. The project team is working to finalize the final report.

The Issue

Heavy traffic of ground vehicles and pedestrians on highways, streets, and sidewalks provides considerable mechanical energy. There is an untapped opportunity to harvest the mechanical energy with under-pavement piezoelectric generators to exploit the large generation potential from traffic on the nation's highways and in major cities. This project aims to create a piezoelectric energy harvesting system with ultra-high density and efficiency.

Project Innovation

This project leverages a multidisciplinary system approach to investigate the energy recovery potential of dual-mode piezoelectric generators to create roadway piezoelectric energy harvesting systems with ultra-high power density and efficiency. The goal is to design and test a piezoelectric roadway energy harvesting system, consisting of multi-layer stack generators and power electronics, to capture over 50% of the compression mechanical energy as electricity from passing vehicles. This project will demonstrate electric power generation, in the laboratory and on a 95 feet x 12 feet section of a road at the UC Merced campus, and will determine feasibility for future large-scale demonstrations on highways and streets with piezoelectric under-pavement.

Project Benefits

This project advances a piezoelectric energy harvesting system with ultra-high density and efficiency. Using an award-winning piezoelectric technology with unique dual-mode and multi-layer generator design and under-pavement installation strategy for smooth drive of passing vehicles and pedestrians, this project will help the ratepayers in California by reducing cost of electricity and reducing emissions related to power generation.

Lower Costs


At commercial scale, electric power density and cost are estimated to be 333 Watts per square foot and $9,010/kW respectively. The levelized cost of electricity is estimated to be less than $0.20/kWh.

Environmental & Public Health

Environmental Sustainability

This project will reduce approximately 40 metric tonnes of CO2 equivalent. By retrofitting 1 percent of useable roadways, the environmental benefits could include reduction of CO2 emissions by more than 100 kilotons per year.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Jian-Qiao Sun

Professor, Ph.D., P.E., ASME Fellow
University of California, Merced

Contact the Team