Ever get caught in a revolving door? Or swatted in the backside as the door speeds up just as you’re slowing down? These things are powerful.
Fluxxlab — a pioneering partnership between Columbia University master’s degree holders Carmen Trudell and Jennifer Broutin — is trying to harness that power. Their flagship product, the Revolution Door, generates electricity as office workers pour through it each day.
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“Jenny and I were in a class called Responsive Kinetic Architecture,” Trudell recalls. “People were trying to design new windows, floors and walls to perform at a higher level of energy efficiency. We decided to find an existing condition inside of a building to be used to produce a small amount of electricity.”
Generators spin. So the women went looking for anything in a typical office building that goes around in circles all day long. They found it — right at the entrance.
“Fluxxlab’s work has been focused on local energy harvesting — primarily from people,” says Trudell. “People move, and make kinetic energy. We figure out ways to convert that into power.”
The door is still in development. The main prototype currently generates enough juice to power 16 compact fluorescent light bulbs for ten hours. But creating electricity isn’t the only point.
“The output from the Revolution Door is relatively small, but it’s great for educational purposes. It makes people aware that the food that we put in our mouths and the fat that’s stored in our bodies are all part of the same energy cycle as the sun, the grass and coal-burning power plants.”
And while the door hasn’t yet been installed in any actual office buildings, the idea is certainly generating interest.
“Getting clients has not been the problem,” Trudell smiles. “Vornado, a huge real-estate developer in New York, is interested, and even Mayor Michael Bloomberg has contacted us about possibly helping with his plan to green City Hall.”
Fluxxlab has also developed the Personal Power Plant, a hand-cranked generator for recharging iPods and cell phones.
“We’ve had people write to us and say they’ve attached their Personal Power Plants to their bicycles to use as a dynamo. They’re taking our circuit and modifying it, which is really exciting. We hope our projects will go on and have lives more exciting than we originally envisioned.”