Thursday, August 02, 2007

Crowd Farm

According to my good friend and former classmate Andrea Thompson over at LiveScience, a team of MIT graduate architecture students is looking into a new source of energy - us. The students, who just won an international competition with their idea, hope to harness the energy generated by human movement in crowds and turn it into electricity. Thompson writes,

"The so-called 'Crowd Farm' would work something like this: A responsive sub-flooring system would be placed under, say, the platform of a subway terminal. The blocks that make up the system would depress slightly under the force of human footsteps. As the blocks slipped against each other, they would generate power in the form of an electric current.

"That electric current could be used, among other things, to light up signs about the energy created by the pedestrians, the creators say.

"'We want people to understand the direct relationship between their movement and the energy produced,' said co-creator Thaddeus Jusczyk.

"While the Crowd Farm wouldn't work in the home (a single human step generates only enough power to light two 60-watt light bulbs for one second), it could really draw some power from a crowd producing thousands of steps. Some 28,527 steps, for example, could power an entire moving train for a second.

"The Crowd Farm could also be used to harness the head-bashing energy at a rock concert."