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POWERleap: Energy on the Floor

Over the years the blogosphere has seen a number of stories about generating power from the vibration of people's feet on a train platform, stairs, bridges and even—in perhaps the most popular example—on the dancefloor. It's known as "piezoelectricity" and it might just start a new industry.

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Encouraged by public enthusiasm over the concept, a new company has launched called POWERleap, which intends to manufacture marketable flooring systems that can generate electricity in all sorts of public places, both from pedestrian traffic and from cars. The systems can be made from a variety of materials, provided that those materials generate an electrical field when struck by the force of a foot or tire.

When this electric charge is fed into a circuit, it can produce power for building operations. POWERleap also expects that large-scale installations of the technology will yield enough electricity that it can be fed back into a municipal grid, similar to a meter running in reverse on a house with photovoltaics or other renewable energy system. It can also be used with sensors as a smart system that can adjust energy output according to demand.

Founded by Elizabeth Redmond and Andrew Katz, POWERleap was a runner-up in the Metropolis Magazine Next Generation Design Competition in 2007, which awarded innovation in energy-related design concepts.

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