Student Makes Green Energy Strides with Electricity-Generating Floor Tile

By Janet Upadhye on February 14, 2014 6:30am 

Slideshow
 Daniel Alhadeff is testing his idea to harness the energy created by footsteps to generate power.
Student Scientist Installs 'Energy Harnessing' Floor at Brooklyn Tech
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FORT GREENE — It could be a big step for eco-friendly energy generation.

One young Brooklyn inventor thinks it's possible to turn his classmates' energy into electricity, building a floor tile that captures the pressure from their footsteps and turning it into power.

Daniel Alhadeff, 15, installed his "energy-harnessing" tile at his school, Brooklyn Technical High School, on Monday and the sophomore estimates it will generate up to 5 watts of power — enough juice to put a 10 percent charge on an iPhone — over the course of a week.

"I feel extremely good about the results," the Lower East Side resident said. "High schoolers can get very excitable but this thing is durable. It's producing the same amount of power every day and it is just not breaking."

Alhadeff came up with the idea when he was tasked with making a circuit in his eighth-grade physics class at the prestigious NEST+m school. He chose to make a doorbell using a piezo buzzer — an apparatus that makes sound when pressed.

The idea that electricity could result from the friction generated by pressing the buzzers fascinated Alhadeff and he immediately "suggested lining the Long Island Expressway with piezos," according to his father, Mark, who works in computer programming.

Instead, Alhadeff scaled back his lofty goal to a 2-foot square tile.

He spent three years on and off designing and upwards of 60 hours building his tile — made with 98 piezo elements (that do not buzz), 500 solder joints, wiring and vinyl flooring. The current generated is measured by a meter that measures the accumulated charge.

After working nearly all night, Alhadeff installed the tile in a heavily foot-trafficked area at Brooklyn Tech on Monday.

"He had the first latte of his life the morning of the install," Mark Alhadeff said. "He needed it and deserved it."

That day, the school made an announcement encouraging people to step on the tile. They even gave him an office nearby to store the meter and track the results of his experiment.

Along with the tile, Daniel, who wants to go into the energy-harnessing industry, also made a device to measure the energy generated — and the results are positive.

This is just the beginning for Alhadeff, who plans to one day launch a Kickstarter project to fund his dream of lining the roadways with piezos.

"This one small tile that students are stepping on is generating energy," he said. "If you could line these tiles across the Long Island Expressway you could be creating much, much more power."

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