Decoding Design

Smartly designed playgrounds could produce renewable energy

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What if we could harness the power of all those calories that children burn in playgrounds?

Children's energy seems to have no bounds, so why not make use of its potential?

A trio of industrial designers have imagined a blueprint for playgrounds in which play structures would harvest kinetic energy to produce power. The designers, Andrew Simoeni, Joel Lim and Funfere Koroye, have dreamed up some objects that would be fun to play on even without the added bonus of energy generation, such as a new take on the old standby, the see-saw:

Their concept, called Kidetic, would use dynamos to convert the mechanical energy from the play structures in motion into electrical energy. Now, nuclear fission this is not. The amount of energy that could be harvested from a playground is relatively small -- perhaps enough to power lights so that the playground could be used at night. Or, perhaps more helpfully, the power generated during a recess period could be used to supplement the energy needs of a school where the playground is located.

According to the designers, each power generator could produce 31.5 Watts per hour of play. (They also note that this could power 20 bulbs for an hour, but it's not clear what they mean by that.) If a school's playground with, say, six structures was used for three hours each day, that would crank out 2,835 Watts per week. That's not going to make a dent in the building's heating or cooling needs, but it's not nothing, either.

What if every playground in a school district, or across a large city, employed energy-harvesting structures such as these? That's a lot of kid power waiting to be captured.

Related: Safe playgrounds now, more phobias later

Via: Energy Harvesting Journal

Images: Joel Lim

Mary Catherine O'Connor

Contributing Writer

Mary Catherine O'Connor has written for Outside, Fast Company, Wired.com, Smithsonian.com, Entrepreneur, Earth2Tech.com, Earth Island Journal and The Magazine. She is based in San Francisco. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure