Let’s Turn That Kid Energy Into Power!

Rather than telling your kids to stop sucking up electricity on the Xbox and get outside and play, in the future, you could tell them to get out there on the playground and actually produce some juice. That future is right around the corner, in fact, for Belgrade, Serbia, where The Piezoelectric Playground, a temporary structure designed by Margot Krasojevic for Pioneer’s Park, is slated for use as a playground and bandstand.

The canopy consists of a hyperbolic structure built on semicondcuting piezoelectric crystal disks that generate an electric current whenever agitated by movement and vibration, such as that produced by children playing, or even by passing traffic. This voltage controls the structure’s holographic, glass-clad canopy and fiberoptic light projections, choreographing a series of patterns that light up whatever’s happening under the canopy, be it a musical event or simply a bunch of kids playing tag.

The Piezoelectric playground

image via Evolo

The piezoelectrochemical effect occurs when those crystal disks release hydrogen and oxygen from water molecules, creating the basis for electricity generation. That water is provided, in this case, courtesy of the rain, as the canopy also acts as a rainwater harvesting device, directing precipitation down into a reservoir at its base. The designer hopes that projects such as the Piezoelectric Playground will highlight the fact that renewable energy can be generated via any structure that vibrates and produces noise.

Evolo reports that the canopy’s looping wooden frame structure is clad in reinforced optical glass tubes which its fiberoptic cables. These cables direct the light through the canopy; the light patterns and intensity are influenced by the circuit of piezoelectric crystals and diodes to change charge direction, therefore continually alter the direction of light and intensity of projections based on atmospheric conditions.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.