Mind the Gap!

"‘Footfall’ has long been the retail marketing expression for ‘bums on seats’ – now it may be harnessed as a source of free energy." Or so an article in the Sunday Times claimed yesterday.

It seems that this all started when some clever souls (please forgive the well intentioned pun) developed some mini-generators and embedded them into the heels of soldiers' boots so that the process of walking, running, and yomping (yes that really is a proper term) would generate power to feed the electronic comms. and gps devices being carried.

Now some London engineers (and avid ProjectWise users) are looking to use similar technology to convert mass footfall into usable energy within Victoria Underground station in central London.

David Webb, a structural engineer at the consultant Scott Wilson , is in discussions with Network Rail and with retail firms to install the devices. He said: “It’s just picking up on the fact that all structures move a bit. This technology says, okay, we can do something useful with that energy.”

And he’s quite right. Modeling the effects of the technology, engineers have calculated that the 34,000 travelers passing through every hour could power 6,500 light bulbs. That’s power generation through unwitting collaboration on a grand scale.

So how does it work?

Simply put; as people walk over pads in the floor a liquid which fills the pads is driven through mini-turbines to generate electricity which is then stored in batteries. So this is hydro-electric power generation of a sort. At least to my brain it is.

You have to wonder, was this idea really invented by Michael Jackson 20+ years ago? 



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