East Japan Railway Company (JR East) will install piezoelectric elements in the floors at ticket gates and other areas of Tokyo Station to test a system that generates power using the energy created by passengers passing through the gates.
Experiments on this "power generating floor" have been carried out since fiscal 2006. The company plans to increase the generating capacity of one passenger walking through the gate by about tenfold over the result achieved in 2007. Also, it aims to maintain a stable generating capacity throughout the test period. The test will start Dec 10, 2008.
The generating capacity and durability of the system were enhanced by improving (1) the shape and layout of the piezoelectric element, (2) the mechanism that transmits the pressure created by walking to each piezoelectric element and (3) the electric circuits, the company said.
In respect to the generating capacity per passenger, JR East aims to attain 10W/sec at the start of the experiment and 90% of the initial capacity two months later. The experiment carried out in fiscal 2007 (Jan 19 to March 7, 2008) achieved 1W/sec at the start and 2/3 of the initial capacity seven weeks later. As for the experiment in fiscal 2006, the value was about 0.1W/sec at the start and 1/3 of the initial value three weeks later.
For this experiment, "walkability" was improved by covering the experiment floors with stone tiles similar to those currently used in the station. In the previous experiment, the floors were covered with rubber materials.
The experiment will continue until early February 2009. The "power generating floor," covering the area of about 25m2 in total, will be installed at seven ticket gates in the Yaesu Kita exit and seven steps of a staircase inside the gate.
JR East expects a generating capacity of total 1,400kW/sec per day. This time, the generated power will be used to display the generating capacity, but, in the future, it will be used to run the automatic ticket gates and electronic display systems, according to the company.