The Eastern Japan Railway company is taking something extra from its passengers. However this time its not a fare hike, the company is harnessing some of their Piezoelectric energy. The Railway will be installing piezoelectric elements in the floors at its ticket gates and other high traffic areas of Tokyo Station.
This isnt’ the only place a piezoelectric floor has been used. Previously on Urban Neighbourhood we highlighted Club WATT, a nightclub in Rotterdam that uses piezoelectric elements in its dance floor to power the light show in the club.
The panels in the floor use the piezoelectric effect; there are certain materials that when squeezed become charged and produce energy. The up and down action created by thousands of people stepping through the gate (from the floors point of view anyway) compresses cells containing piezoelectric material. The downward pressure powers tiny generators beneath the floor which then send the electricity to batteries or back into the grid.
The Railway Company has been carrying out experiments with power generating floors since 2006. It aims to try to achieve a stable generating capacity. The total power generating area will cover about 25m2 in total, and will be installed at seven ticket gates in the Yaesu Kita exit and seven steps of a staircase inside the gate. In past experiments the panels were covered with a rubber surface but the company hopes to improve power generation by converting over to stone tiles similar to what is used on the other station surfaces. Currently the power is just being used to display the systems generating capacity, but the railway hopes to powers its ticketing systems and automatic gates in the future. S