New invention to keep the lights on

Clement Mokoenene, right, and a member of his team test their new energy harvesting system that can generate electricity enough to light up an RDP house using traffic. / Mduduzi Ndzingi
Clement Mokoenene, right, and a member of his team test their new energy harvesting system that can generate electricity enough to light up an RDP house using traffic. / Mduduzi Ndzingi
Image: Mduduzi Ndzingi

A Gauteng civil engineer has discovered a way to generate electricity enough to light up an RDP house using traffic.

Clement Mokoenene's spectacular idea will compete in the international Chivas Venture Start Up competition set to take place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, next month.

Mokoenene from Kempton Park in Ekurhuleni has developed a vehicle energy harvesting system (VEHS) after observing the friction between the wheels of an airplane and the ground in 2011.

His invention was inspired by watching the pressure released when a plane landed on an airstrip.

Mokoenene, 44, said it has been a difficult journey because of the negative reactions he received from experts in the field. However, he did not allow this to deter him.

"People told me I was crazy, but innovation is about testing the boundaries of science," said Mokoenene.

The VEHS is a portable power station that converts the pressure from traffic into renewable electricity.

To harvest the power, the road is covered with a special layer that will absorb the pressure from cars. This, according to Mokoenene, will create friction which in turn causes the turbines to rotate and generate electricity.

The electricity created will then be stored for communities to use. The VEHS is a self-funded initiative by Mokoenene through his business Epitome Consultancy. Since its inception, he has spent R2-million.

"It was incredibly expensive to make a prototype because of the different stages," he said.

"The stages of the eight-year process include research, designing and redesigning, checking theories and building the system."

He said building a system that was developed locally was important to him because he plans to show the world that African scientists and engineers have the ability to create world- renowned innovations.

Mokoenene first won the South African Chivas Venture Start Up competition in order to get entry into the global competition where he will compete against 26 inventors from other countries.

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