It's been criticized for contributing to the obesity epidemic and condemned by PETA, but now a Burger King franchise in the New York metro area has announced that it wants in on the green movement. The high-traffic restaurant in Hillside, N.J., will install a speed bump designed to harness the kinetic energy produced by the hundreds of cars that pass through the drive-thru daily.
As they wait for their Double Whopper, customers will roll through a section of the drive-thru lane lined with metal plates that move down and up as cars head to the next window. The MotionPower technology developed by Burtonsville, Md.-based New Energy Technologies, could harness and capture the energy twice daily, the company reports.
"More than 150,000 cars drive through our Hillside store alone each year, and I think it would be great to capture the wasted kinetic energy of these hundreds of thousands of cars to generate clean electricity," said Andrew Paterno, co-owner of 12 N.Y. metro-area Burger Kings. In its report, New Energy Technologies said it is partnering with BK for "durability testing," so it may be awhile before energy is actually captured and put to use. Once active, it's possible that the energy would be routed directly to the power grid.
So how is Burger King benefiting from this? It's unlikely one "green" speed bump will attract more customers (unless it relieves the guilt of an unhealthy meal). Instead of offsetting the restaurant's already wasted energy, BK should focus on the many ways it can reduce its energy usage in the first place. For example, recycling used vegetable oil, installing solar panels on the roof and windows, or transporting their proteins on low-impact trucks, such as this one.
Will an energy-producing speed bump eclipse Burger King's bad rep with environmentalists? Probably not. But I'll give them credit for playing guinea pig. New Energy Technologies, which develops other renewable energy, has a larger plan to install speed bumps in toll booths, streets, border crossings, and other high-traffic areas.