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Wood floors could power underfloor heating

A new process has been developed that generates electricity from people walking on wood flooring.

The government wants a drastic reduction of carbon emissions, which are linked to climate change. Underfloor heating is one way to make a building more energy efficient and be responsible for fewer carbon emissions.

Researchers in Switzerland have found a method to create a layered wood floor that is coated with chemicals that convert the movement of people walking on the floor into electricity. Conventional wood could be used to generate small amounts of electricity, but the treated wood is 80 times more effective. The electricity generated by people walking on a wood floor could be used in underfloor heating systems. There have been other floor electricity generating systems developed, but they do not work with wood floors.

There is one problem with this technology – a few people in a household walking on a living room floor would generate very little energy, which would not be enough to make significant energy savings when used with underfloor heating. The technology could be used in busy supermarkets, museums and other places with a high footfall. However, tests by the researchers in a supermarket found that customers and staff walking on the floor only managed to generate enough power for a single light bulb.

Unless the new technology becomes more efficient, underfloor heating is better powered by heat pumps, electricity, gas or renewable energy. Hopefully, with more research and development, future underfloor heating systems could be powered by people walking on floors.