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Students design revolutionary metro turnstiles that generate clean energy from commuters

The goal was to turn "very small movement into continuous energy."

The goal was to turn “very small movement into continuous energy

Photo Credit: iStock

A global energy company and a group of French engineering students have made renewable power from routine human motion. 

Experts at Iberdrola, a global renewable energy business, teamed with students from Junia, French school of science and engineering, to turn six turnstiles at Paris's Miromesnil Métro station into "mini turbines" that leverage the kinetic energy of people passing through them to create power. 

The goal was to turn "very small movement into continuous energy," according to an Iberdrola video clip. 

The company is also working to raise awareness about renewable energy as the planet's overheating grows more perilous. The project was in motion for two days last year.

If implemented throughout the metro system, Iberdrola reported that more than 30,000 tons of air pollution could be avoided, thanks to the movement of 1.5 billion metro users each year. 

Junia students used 3D printers to make the turnstile arms in the shape of wind turbine blades, Iberdrola reported. They used mechanism principles from real wind turbines and watches. 

An Iberdrola video of the operation shows the turbine-themed blade design the engineering students developed. 

The turnstile arms, made using biodegradable corn starch, are seen spinning as each person passes through them, generating more than 2,000 watts a day. If deployed across the underground system, the turnstiles could power an entire line, per the clip. 

It's part of Iberdrola's efforts to call out air pollution through a "turn to green" campaign. During the campaign, the turnstiles powered nearby screens that showed messages highlighting renewable energy. 

Many climate scientists agree that to avoid catastrophe, the world's average temperature "should not exceed" what it was from 1850-1900 (pre-industrialization) "by more than 2.7-degrees Fahrenheit," MIT reported.

But there is a 66% chance that the mark will be surpassed during one of the next five years, according to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and it's "increasing with time."

That's why Iberdrola's leader said the company is pushing the renewable energy message. The Paris turnstile project is a vision of how cleaner power can be created, even in mundane daily activity

"[W]e want to continue driving the transition toward an energy system based on renewable energy, grids, and storage to build a more sustainable … society, and a more habitable planet for new generations," Iberdrola Executive Chairman Ignacio S. Galán said on the company's website. 

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