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Piezoelectricity: power the world with your toesies

Piezoelectricity: power the world with your toesies

“Piezoelectricity (pronounced /piˌeɪzoʊˌilɛkˈtrɪsɪti/) is the charge which accumulates in certain solid materials (notably crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied mechanical strain.” – Wikipedia

In 2008, GOOD reports, a Dutch dance club created a piezoelectric dance floor that captured energy from the movement of dancers’ feet, and used it to change the color of the floor.

Luckily, it didn’t stop at disco. A Tokyo station installed a piezoelectric floor that produces enough energy to power ticket gates and displays. And Toulouse, France (one of this author’s favorite cities ever ever) installed pressure-sensitive sidewalk plates that power the streetlamps.

In Israel, piezoelectric strips embedded in the highway may produce enough power for 2,500 homes. And a piezoelectric pair of loafers might, one day, recharge your cell phone.

Think it’s too good to be true? Take a good look at your grandfather’s quartz watch, the first commercially-marketed piezoelectric device. If they could do it 60 years ago, they can do it even better now.

Read more on GOOD and Wiki-goshdarn-pedia.

Want to make your own energy-producing floor? Steep learning curve, but there’s good information here: Making Piezoelectric Floor Tiles (pdf)

Photos: Drossel ojou-sama doing the moves of Disco, by kodomut.

6 Comments

  • That is seriously The Future stuff right there. Endless energy could be harvested from children. Just kidding. But really, it seems like they never run out. And they LIKE running around and hitting stuff.

    (And lols at the tags.)

    • Kids, yes, and what about all those people already using gym equipment? I’ve always thought that was a criminal waste of energy going nowhere. Gyms should be people-powered and put electricity back into the grid!

    • AMEN Jess! I heard last year that they’re starting to build kinetically-powered gyms. Once they can get the machines working correctly, it seems like a no-brainer for gym owners.

      Funks – click “dutch people are crazy,” it’s really turning into a Thing.

    • Such a crazy cycle we’re in, with the food and workout industries. But we might as well harness that gym energy, yes. Absolutely.

      And that Thing is a Thing! It’s true!

    • I have been thinking the same thing for years. I have been hearing about prototypes for eco-gyms and other everyday ways to generate energy for a while now, but it seems like no one has quite figured out a viable model yet. I hope it happens soon!

  • We could run the lights in my classroom of 10 toddlers and two teachers without any outside help! As a bonus, the only time people aren’t scampering around is naptime … when we want it dark anyway. :)

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