Saturday, May 28, 2011

On Escalators and Energy

This makes four? or five? posts written today. This could get old. But I guess that's how good blogging feels.

My next good (bad) idea for the day: escalators and elevators.

Currently, escalators and elevators are a sizeable drain on our energy resources. I'm not sure it has to be that way. While riding the London Underground a week or so ago, I realised that there is no net difference in potential energy from when a person goes into one Underground station and comes out another. The way escalators are today, energy gets used going down and coming up, which is just silly.

What if we started harvesting energy from people going down escalators and elevators? People (like myself) have talked about crowd farming energy in densely packed areas like train stations. What's more densely packed than an escalator during the day? or a tightly packed elevator? Every time a person descends, we could be using the energy of that person falling to generate electric or mechanical power. Ideally, the people going down the escalator could almost lift the people up on the other escalator. The same could be true with elevators. Instead of using mechanical brakes in escalators and elevators, we could be using magnetic breaks that generate electrical power when they brake. Just a thought. I doubt it would even be that hard to implement.

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