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Engineer and inventor Clement Mokoenene has won the South African leg of the Chivas Venture IV competition, walking away with R350 000. Mokoenene won for his electricity generation solution, the Vehicle Energy Harvesting System (VEHS).

Innovative electricity generation solution gains recognition.djpgMokoenene got the idea for his innovative electricity generation project in 2011 when he saw the impact on a runway of an Airbus A380 landing. He drew a connection between road pressure, aeroplanes and electricity generation and came up with the VEHS.

“That got me thinking about the pressure and heat a plane puts on the runway, and from there I looked at our roads and the potholes which are a clear indication of how much pressure they are under,” Mokoenene says. “This led me to consider ways in which this pressure could be harvested to generate electricity.”

The VEHS works by installing an overlay on an existing road, extracting the pressure and transferring it to the side of the road, similar to a wind turbine. This then creates electricity. The result is electricity at a much lower price than current generation methods.

Mokoenene was one of four finalists in the Chivas Venture competition, which aims to find “South Africa’s most innovative social entrepreneur”. He will now attend a week-long accelerator programme at Oxford University, and will represent South Africa at the global finale of the competition, to be held in Amsterdam in May, where he will compete against 28 other entrants for a share of $1-million.

Mokoenene believes that the event will provide an opportunity for the VEHS to be improved to the best of its capability, while also receiving international exposure which may lead to further investment. An alpha-prototype has been built and is currently powering the lights at Mokoenene’s offices, and a beta-prototype is in the works, with the aim of piloting the system from March. He is in advanced discussions with the Department of Trade and Industry, and plans to have two plants up and running by the end of 2017.

Video credit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSh8rRqhfFE&feature=youtu.be

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