These Energy Recycling Stairs Can Make Climbing Easier

Posted: Jul 15 2017, 1:15pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 

These Energy Recycling Stairs can Make Climbing Easier
Credit: Yun Seong Song
 

Energy efficient stairs absorb user's energy during descent and return it to user during ascent

Many people just don’t like taking stairs and avoid them as much as possible. Patients with joints or lower back problem also prefer to get to an escalator or elevator as they face problems with climbing or descending stairs. 

Now, researchers from Georgia Tech and Emory University have created a new type of stairs that can make walking up and down a lot easier. The new energy-recycling stairs has an incredible mechanism. They store a user's energy during descent and return energy to him during ascent. By absorbing and returning people’s own energy, these stairs can a add sprint to their steps and make the whole process more relax and comfortable for users. 

Researchers created the device by analyzing patterns of energy use in many participants ascending and descending the stairs .

"Current solutions for people who need help aren't very affordable. Elevators and stair-lifts are often impractical to install at home," said Karen Liu, an associate professor at Georgia Tech. "Low-cost, easily installed assistive stairs could be a way to allow people to retain their ability to use stairs and not move out of their homes."

Our legs use a lot of energy to prevent us from falling when we race down from stairs and this energy mostly goes wasted. So, researchers decided to create something that can store the energy wasted during descent and return it to the user during ascent.

The energy-recycling stairs compress when stepped on and save 26 percent of a person's energy by absorbing impact. When going up, the stairs release the stored energy and boost a person’s climbing capabilities, making it 37 percent easier on the knee than using conventional stairs. These stairs are designed to assist elderly, disabled people and people affected by joint problems and injuries.

“Unlike normal walking where each heel-strike dissipates energy that can be potentially restored, stair ascent is actually very energy efficient; most energy you put in goes into potential energy to lift you up.” Liu said.

Each step of energy-recycling stairs is equipped with springs and sensors, which essentially hold and release energy and reduce the amount of effort and impact usually caused by using stairs. 

“The spring in the stairs, instead of the ankle, acts as a cushion and brake," said Yun Seong Song, the designer of the prototype device from Missouri University of Science and Technology. "The gentle downward movement alleviates work by the trailing ankle, which is what keeps you balanced and prevents you from falling too fast on normal stairs.”

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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