Noise is one thing that there’s no shortage of in urban areas, and a new design concept for skyscrapers could enable large buildings to harvest that ambient noise and convert it into clean renewable energy.
One entry to the 2013 eVolo Skyscraper Competition suggests that by building Soundscrapers (buildings covered with “electro-active lashes”) near high volume areas such as freeways or railways, urban areas could produce a fair amount of energy just from the vibrations coming from the ambient noises generated there.
“The soundscraper takes advantage of city noise pollution by capturing airborne sound and converting it into usable energy. One of the most abundant energy sources is ambient motion. Vibrations can provide plentiful energy, and can be transferred through many media, making this form of kinetic energy very useful.” – eVolo
This novel building concept would integrate the electro-active lashes, which are covered with sound sensors, with a specialized energy harvester to convert the sound vibrations into electricity.
According to the team behind the Soundscraper concept, just one tower could produce as much as 150 MW/h, which could power 10% of the urban lighting needs of a large city such as Los Angeles.
The types of noise pollution that Soundscrapers could theoretically harvest include a wide spectrum of frequencies, such as auto and truck traffic, railways, pedestrians and residents of the building, and perhaps even the sound of airplanes flying overhead.
The Soundscraper concept, by Julien Bourgeois, Olivier Colliez, Savinien de Pizzol, Cédric Dounval, and Romain Grouselle, won an Honorable Mention in the 2013 eVolo Skyscraper Competition.
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