Saving the Environment at 120 BPM

Recently, some tech-savvy European club owners have taken advantage of a little technological innovation to help them pay the bills. Power generating dance floors have become a new craze of ‘eco-nightclubs’ in several cities. Flashing lights, thumping bass, and dancing feet: the resources of the coolest new way to generate electricity.

Humans generate a surprising amount of energy, especially when we party. Each footstep can be harvested for about 3-5 watts of power.[1] This doesn’t seem like much, but put an energy harvesting dance floor in a room with a few hundred club-goers, and you have the potential to power over 60% of the club. [2]

Some of these dance floors are made out of piezoelectric materials. Piezoelectric materials are usually crystalline and they produce an electric current when under mechanical stress. These floors have several piezoelectric crystals staggered under the floorboard that are connected to batteries and the electric grid. When people walk on the floors, the crystals are compressed and an electrical current is produced.

Fig1

Figure 1 – Piezoelectric Dance Floors [3]

Another form of electricity generating dance floor uses a fairly simple mechanical device to convert kinetic energy to electric energy. Under the flooring is a flywheel that is connected to an electric generator and a spring to return the floor to its starting position. Energy Floors, a start up company from the Netherlands, has developed the Sustainable Dance Floor, which utilizes this flywheel to generator conversion system. The flooring has a maximum deflection of 10 mm and an efficiency of 50%.  They claim that a constant 35 watt output can be produced on a floorboard under the size of 1 square meter. [4]

Fig2

Figure 2 – Sustainable Dance Floor module [4]

Of course, nightclubs aren’t the only place where power generating floors might be seen in the future. Places with heavy foot traffic are typically places with heavy electrical consumption, especially in the form of lighting. Think of the constant wave of people that cross through the entrances of subways, airports, and stadiums. 30,000 or more people can pass through subways in major cities during rush hour. A London architecture firm is developing hydraulic to electric generating floors to implement in London’s South Central subway station. This station can experience 34,000 people walking through it at one time. With each step generating 3-5 watts of power, there will be enough power for the buildings’ lighting and audio equipment and then some. [1] I think that’s pretty impressive for just walking.

 

 

[1] – http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/10/magazine/10section1C.t-2.html?_r=0

[2] – http://www.club4climate.com/2012/04/26/what-is-an-eco-night-club/#more-13

[3]- http://inhabitat.com/green-a-go-go-at-londons-first-eco-disco/

[4]- http://www.sustainabledanceclub.com/products/sustainable_dance_floor/

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1 Comment

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One response to “Saving the Environment at 120 BPM

  1. Well, the idea of generating electricity through walking is really interesting. Imagine how promising it will be if we can transform all the previously-wasted bio-energy into electricity. However, I’m curious about how much it will cost for manufacturing and maintenance of the electricity-generating floor. If the price is high, which is very likely to be the case, then the electricity it generates will become unimportant and not so many companies will be willing to deploy it.

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