Power Generating Floors Gives New Meaning to Power Walk

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The future of environmentally friendly power generation may come from simply walking on specially designed floor tiles, which convert your f...

The future of environmentally friendly power generation may come from simply walking on specially designed floor tiles, which convert your footsteps into electricity.

By Karn G. Bulsuk

In an average day in the world’s leading cities, be it Hong Kong, Toyko, Singapore, London or New York, the unmistakable deafening sound of millions of heels hitting the pavement as people make their commute to work, echoes around the extensive rail networks that these magnificent cities are known for.

The thundering noise is more than just the background hum of a metropolis. With current technology, these footsteps can be changed into pure electricity to help cleanly power the demands of an active city.

The Japanese have developed technology which converts vibrations from footsteps into electricity, in the form of tiles to replace standard flooring. If high traffic areas, such as train stations, are equipped with these tiles, then it is possible to freely harness the daily foot traffic of commuters everyday.

Several sample installations have already been done, starting with Tokyo Station, one of the world’s busiest train stations. Electrical output is still low, with one person generating around 0.1 watt per step. That would require 600 people to step on the tiles to power a 100 watt light bulb for one minute. Efficiency is increasing though, and it is now generates 10 times the amount of electricity the technology did in 2006.

A sample installation powered by people walking through train gates in Tokyo Station

On a large scale, train stations, sidewalks and entire shopping malls – anywhere with a large number of people walking at one time – can be turned into people powered power plants enough to partially power the facility.

The environmental benefits are obvious. In addition to saving electricity costs and reducing the need for the burning of fossil fuels, once the technology matures, is economical and is deployed on a large-scale, then the city may be capable of contributing back to the power grid. Shopping malls may even be able to profit from selling this electricity back to the power authorities, while people living in high traffic areas could install the technology on pavements and gain free power. If deployed on roads and highways, the possible electricity generating potential is limitless.

In the future, walking may not just be good for you and the environment, but also good for your pocket.

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Karn G. Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead: Power Generating Floors Gives New Meaning to Power Walk
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Karn G. Bulsuk: Full Speed Ahead
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