The idea of harvesting body heat to warm a building might be familiar if you’ve been reading up on passive house design, so here it is on a grand scale: take a train station in Sweden that sees about 250,000 travelers per day, and recycle all that body heat as clean, renewable energy. The twist is, instead of heating the train station, the heat is being used in another building entirely.
Harvesting Body Heat from Train Stations
The beauty of the system is that it makes use of stuff that already exists – namely, the people and the Stockholm Central Station – and it also makes use of existing technology. Standard heat exchangers convert the excess heat to hot water, which is then sent to nearby Kungsbrohuset, a green-designed commercial building that also deploys tactics such as maximizing the use of natural daylight, and using water from a lake for cooling. It is estimated that body heat from the train station will provide about 25% of heat for Kungsbrohuset.
Harvesting Clean, Renewable Energy from Bodies
As it turns out, we humans are regular dynamos when it comes to generating renewable energy. Recycling our body heat is just one of several people-power strategies that are emerging. Others include generating biogas from municipal sewage as well as scavenging kinetic energy from treadmills and other workout equipment, and wearing solar-integrated fabrics or high tech knee braces to harvest energy from routine movements.
Image: “Faces in a crowd” by .shyam and friend on flickr.com.