inDOOR Energy Harvesting

Raphael Zollinger

The inDOOR Energy Harvester is a low cost, low profile mechanism that converts rotational kinetic energy from opening and closing a door to usable electricity whose progress can be dynamically graph and monitored from a website.


Classes Designing for Constraints,Dynamic Web Development,Sustainable Energy,Thesis

From the time you wake up in the morning to eating, walking, even sitting at a desk, you are generating energy. What if we could harness and harvest our actions, turn our comings and goings into an unconscious power plant? In my thesis, I am exploring the potential these mundane actions have to produce the electricity for the low power devices that supplement our lifestyles. My first investigation is focused on doors. In an office building of just 2,000 workers (like Tisch) entry doors are opened at least 6 times a day, 12,000 times. I have created a prototype for an add-on for hinged doors that generates electricity each time it is opened and closed. There is a mechanism to store this electricity, measure what is produced over time, save that data on a sever and then be able to dynamically graph and monitor its progress from a website. The stored electricity can then be used for any of the buildings off grid needs, such as emergency sign-age, security cameras or lighting.

i have been interested in sustainable practices, ecology and the environment for a long time and have come back to it through the medium of technology. I have spent the past year exploring various new methods of energy harvesting and generation, focusing on vibration and kinetic energy, as it relates to the urban/indoor environment. I then found the structure of buildings and people interactions with in, specifically the use of doors, the best vehicle to test energy transfer systems, such as piezo, stepper and magnetic induction generators before approaching my current design. At the same time I have been researching data visualization for user feedback and motivation.

everyone - specifically: architects and building owners/managers.

User Scenario
people enter through a door with out knowing they producing usable electricity.

A geared AC generator is pushed and pulled along a gear rack as the door is opened and closed. The energy generated is rectified and stored in a super capacitor where it can be used any number of needs. A circuit measured what is stored and produced each time the door opens as well as counts hw many times the door has opened. This circuit is connected to the internet via an Ethernet port where the data is passed to a php script and input to a mySQL database. Using Flash and javascript, the progress of the module on the door can monitored from a website,providing the user with not just energy produced, but carbon, sulphur and money saved.

It is extremely difficult to produce usable energy, but possible when coupled with new devices that function with lower power requirements, thus more efficient.