All those cars on California's famously gridlocked highways could be doing more than just using energy — they could be producing it.
The California Energy Commission is investing $2 million to study whether piezoelectric crystals can be used to produce electricity from the mechanical energy created by vehicles driving on roads.
The commission is in the process of choosing a company or university to take on small-scale field tests. It will study how the small crystals, which generate energy when compressed, could produce electricity for the grid if installed under asphalt.
The $2 million California is using to test the technology will come from a renewable investment fund created by the California Public Utilities Commission. Bidding will end Nov. 18, and the commission will award the contract in the spring.