Technology Review reports on Levant Power’s “GenShock” technology, which generates electricity by converting the kinetic energy of suspension travel into electricity. And electricity generation isn’t the whole story: the entire suspension is an actively-controlled, dynamic system that improves performance as well as efficiency in a turnkey package.
Levant has developed a modified piston head that includes parts that spin as it moves through the oil, turning a small generator housed within the shock absorber. To improve vehicle handling, the power controller uses information from accelerometers and other sensors to change the resistance from the generators, which stiffens or softens the suspension. For example, if the sensors detect the car starting a turn, the power controller can increase the resistance from the shock absorbers on the outer wheels, improving cornering, says David Diamond, the vice president of business development at Levant.
Given that this system returns the greatest efficiency improvements in large-truck applications, it might just be the shot in the arm needed to get Roland Burris’s electric HUMMER acid test off the ground. More realistically, this seems to be the kind of technology that could transform the commercial and military vehicle sectors, both of which have strong (non-moral) incentives to improve fleet-wide efficiency.