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Friday August 4, 2006 5:00 pm
Japanese Scientists Working on Commuter-generated Electricity
If only there were a way to harness the electricity of the people just walking down the street ...
Researchers in Japan are working on that one, and they might have hit on the answer. Specifically, it’s scientists at the East Japan Railway Company, and they’re testing the development of a ticket gate that would generate electricity from each person who walks through. That’s potentially thousands or even tens of thousands of people each day, and even a small amount of electricity generated by each of these people would be enough to power the station for perhaps the entire day.
The technology involved is piezoelectricity, the same kind of energy used in quartz clocks and computers, which use frequency multipliers to reach the megahertz range. The scientists actually have a device in place, at the railway company’s head office in Shibuya; and they are testing it for a week or so. The machine embedded in the gate generates a small amount of electricity each time someone walks through. Assuming that tests are successful and the company can justify the installation cost in eventual savings, piezo-powered gates will begin appearing in train stations sometime later this year.
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