Welcome to Engineer Academy where we’re exploring an A to Z of Engineering – everything from acoustics to zoos.
In each episode, we spin the wheel to find out what type of engineering we’ll be exploring with the help of Engers, our engineering expert.
You can listen to the full series of the A to Z of Engineering here.
Let’s take a look at K for KINETIC ENGINEERING.
What is Kinetic Engineering?
Now, you might be thinking – what does Kinetic mean? Well, it’s all about motion – or rather capturing the energy in motion. Kinetic engineers investigate motion and force, and come up with ways to convert these into energy.
It’s an exciting field because kinetic energy is considered a renewable energy source – and motion is already part of many everyday processes – from revolving doors to going for a jog to get fit.
We can capture these motions and convert them into energy – perhaps to power lights or charge up our smart watches as we move. On a larger scale, kinetic energy can be harnessed to generate what we need to power and heat our homes.
Wind turbines are kinetic, converting energy in the wind into mechanical power, whilst hydro power capture energy from the movement of the tides and water flows. The exciting thing is that we don’t have to generate the movement – it already exists. Pretty cool, right?
As we know, we need energy to do many everyday things – even simple things like charging our phones, and we hope this energy comes from renewable sources – like solar power and wind farms. But what if you could charge your phone by… just dancing? That’s what kinetic engineers have been looking at – creating dance floors that convert the movement of the dancers into energy – enough to charge up a phone and even take a selfie.
So how does it work? Well, when you dance or step on a special floor tile, an internal mechanical process is set in motion. This is connected to a dynamo which converts the movement into electricity. Depending on the weight of the step, the floor tiles will create around 2 Watts per step. And if you were doing high impact dancing or jumping, this could go up to 35 Watts. To give you an idea of what this means – 35 Watts is enough to power a lightbulb.
The kinetic tiles are constructed from glass, steel, recycled plastic and electronics – all of which can easily be separated and recycled at the end of the tile’s lifecycle.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. Games and challenges can be added to the floors, with the kinetic energy created by the players converted into electricity. Players can compete with each other in an Energy Battle. Perhaps they could generate energy to activate a photo booth or visualise the amount of energy generated on the Energy Meter.
The band Coldplay made use of kinetic flooring to help reduce their carbon emissions during their 2022 tour. Kinetic dance floor tiles were assembled in a circle for fans to dance whilst helping power the concert. But if they didn’t want to dance, there were also 15 stationary bikes to cycle on to create energy.
When you think about the movement all around us, you can see that Kinetic Engineers have an almost limitless source of energy – and there’s a limitless number of ways it can be used – and crucially in a renewable way.
And that’s our take on the letter K – It’s been Krazy!
If you would like to check out some other types of engineering, why not check out Kite or Knowledge Engineering.
Join us again next time to spin the wheel and explore another letter in the A to Z of Engineering!