Toyota’s new advertisement campaign (more or less) titled “How would you use our technology to make the world better” misses something … that the average person doesn’t really know how any of this stuff works … so how can they apply it logically to the real world?
Part of the problem is toyota’s. With their hybrid system ads they explain that braking recharges the batteries. What they don’t explain is that the gas you burned to get the Prius up to speed in the first place is still more energy than you can get back from braking … but in the commercial it sounds almost like a cyclical, perpetual system.
This prompts someone to write in that they should apply this technology to roller coasters and charge batteries when they brake the coasters to power the amusement park. Well, ironically, this is how most rollercoasters already function—though typically with flywheels and not batteries. Rollercoasters require a huge amount of work to lift to the top of the track, and typically engineers have already been capturing some of that braking at the end of the ride to help lift the next one. Now this doesn’t “create” any energy, it just helps to waste as little as possible. Any Kinetic energy left in the Coaster—that we had to add in the first place by lifting it to the top of the drop tower, by using energy in the form of a tow-chain—gets put back into big flywheels that then are used to turn the axles running the tow chain … A cyclical process, but certainly not a perpetual or sustainable one. It will always require further inputs …