Generate Energy with Fluxxlab’s ‘Revolution’ Revolving Door

by , 02/07/08

revolution-door-1.jpg, Kinetic energy, revolving door energy, Fluxxlab, Greener Gadgets conference, renewable energy, human power

The designers at New York City based Fluxxlab studio have come up with an ingenious sustainable energy harvesting idea that makes you wonder why no one else has thought of it before. Their Revolution Door manages to capture otherwise wasted human energy from the revolving doors we all see at various large buildings. If you think about it, this concept is quite similar to a turbine spinning somewhere deep inside a hydroelectric dam or within wind turbine to generate renewable electricity.

The Revolution Door technology can be used with any new or existing revolving doors. At its core, it contains three parts – a redesigned central core replacing that of any existing or new revolving door, a mechanical/electrical system that harnesses human energy and redistributes electricity to an output, and an output device that maps the harnessed energy. The revolving doors in large office buildings are always in use at any given moment during the day and by capturing that kinetic energy this project can provide free electricity to the installation site.

We were fortunate enough to have met these ingenious designers through the Greener Gadgets conference, through the New York art and technology center Eyebeam. Fluxxlab has received funding from the Eyebeam art and technology center as well as support from New York University sustainability fund. The design studio will soon showcase a working full scale prototype at the Eyebeam exhibition in March. It will be very interesting to see if architects will start incorporating this brilliant renewable energy generator into future sustainable building designs.

+ Revolution Revolving Energy Door – by Fluxxlab

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  1. Mohsin ali April 21, 2014 at 1:41 am

    .i want some information and knowledge abt the revolving structure.. as we have final year project ground+15 stories building and top floor is restaurant which is revolving …do u have any information abt this “that how it rotates….which supports is to be given for the only top floor….how the people will access…means which type of material and instruments are used for this???

  2. allison183013 September 8, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    i just want to be part of this website. Were conducting thesis now. And i just want to know more about the revolving door

  3. blessenergy June 17, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    Dear Sirs,

    Would it be nice to have these kinetic doors or revolving entrances build in at the gates of our holy Mecca ! there are more than 5 Million people entering and leaving 5 gates each year. I would guess that each gate can let in 20 people to enter and exit same time. That is a produce huge kinetic and blessed energy !
    any suggestion how to introduce this idea to the authorities ?

    Waleed Yousuf

  4. GXR Reaper May 18, 2008 at 6:11 am

    Can some one post what the main parts are worth
    Cheers zach

  5. brotherbear March 25, 2008 at 6:19 pm

    I’m really interested in the generator itself how much electricity can it produse if you put it on a windmill?

  6. LG Blog » As one ... March 7, 2008 at 6:53 am

    […] Inhabitat and a free newspaper I found on the bus last night were keen to discuss the merits of this new green energy Revolving door by Fluxxlab. […]

  7. GreenNetizen March 5, 2008 at 12:45 am

    I’m sold. You all have the most unique ideas of all the things I read out there. Thanks for the innovative creative work you are putting out there to help nudge the world forward!

  8. Mekhong Kurt March 4, 2008 at 4:24 am

    I’m not qualified to do the math. With that admitted right up front, I do want to make an observation.

    *IF* even a miniscule amount of garnered energy ends up being cost-efficient to recover the intial investment, within a reasonable time-frame, this seems like a reasonable idea to me, especially at places such gargantuan airports with heavy in-out pedestrian traffic through out much of the day, evening, and wee morning hours.

    Even if the answer is no, I wonder if linking this system with another green technology might make it far more useful. Specifically, if solar panels (the kind that can work even in coudy weather, ideally) could provide the right amount of electricity to keep the door rotating constantly at the average speed travel through it anyway, then I assume there are few costs (small ones, at that) beyond the initial investment in the solar panels, meaning ROI might be achieved in a reasonable time-frame as well.

    And even if the net power generated remains small for any given building, there’s the multiplier effect, as others have noted. Maybe, on average, a building might generate only an average sufficient to power a single light bulb say, six hours per day. Multiply that times a million buildings, and perhaps the economics begin to make sense. And take out a light bulb as well, as some have suggested — more than doubling energy costs saved.

    The idea *sounds* good, anyway.

    Mekhong Kurt
    Bangkok, Thailand

  9. Sam T February 15, 2008 at 6:39 am

    In response to ‘oakling':

    In my head, you don’t have to say “Americans/Westeners” since, well, Americans are a part of the western world as well as Europe, South America, Canada et.c. I, myself, is from Sweden and is also considered a “westerner” is constantly told by my trainers that i should take each and every possibility to use my own muscles. Pull/Push the door open instead of puching the button. Take the stairs, if feasible, instead of the elevator. Walk to the store instead of driving the car. Each action in itself is pretty ignorable, but it all adds up in the long run.
    I am also one of those who don’t pay for health clubs since i can keep my condition running, doing push-ups, sit-ups, back-ups, chin-ups and all kinds of ‘ups in my home. 15 minutes a day is all it takes.

    My post was half jokingly a push in the “you really do have to stop thinking about what one product does, think bigger people” direction. This door will not produce enourmous amounts of energy. Neither will piezo thingys in pavements or floors. But together the end result is bigger. It all adds up.

    Perhaps writing about westerners (like me) was a bad thing. Perhaps I should have written “Swedes” since we starts to see the problems here too, now that more and more american (there you have it) companies area spreading wild with products filled with obscene amounts of sugar, fat and other healthyness. The life-style is also getting less active. This is not a good combination. But seriously. What other part of the world suffers from serious weight problems and over-consumerism? Not Africa for sure. Finding ‘big’ people in Indonesia or Asia isn’t that easy either. Sure, they exists. But all-in-all they’re pretty rare. Why? The food of course matters big time, but i’d be really surprised if these problems would not start popping up when they get to the same “great standard” as us westerners and starts driving the car to the near-by mall.
    But maybe i’m just being ignorant.

  10. Betsy Devine February 14, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    I am surprised nobody mentions that Thomas Edison used this exact principle. Visitors passing through a turnstile had to do enough work moving the turnstile to raise a gallon of water to Edison’s roof holding tank. Edison’s idea is mentioned in a recent Wikipedia article as the inspiration for something called “The Crowd Farm Project.”

  11. Jared Boucha February 13, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    I think it would save money and energy for large supermarkets and other businesses where people are constantly moving in and out.Also, revolving doors themselves can save energy, because they let less air in which has to be heated and cooled.

  12. oakling February 12, 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Oh my god, I am so tired of everyone always throwing in blog comments about how fat/lazy/out of shape Americans/westerners are, no matter what the topic is at hand. I have never seen anyone say (using this post as an example) “This is a great idea, I could sure use the miniscule amount of extra exercise it would give me.” Whether that’s because they know on some level that this is a really ridiculously small amount of extra effort or whether it’s because they’re too *mentally* lazy to think more critically about what the real issues around health and food and weight in the US are, and would rather just fall into the easy joke of “ha ha all the other Americans but me are so pathetically fat,” I do not know. Either way, it’s woefully ignorant and anorexic thinking.

  13. Sam T February 12, 2008 at 5:02 am

    Hm. Yes.
    I sincerely doubt that, given the physical state of many “western” people, a slightly harder push would not do much harm and cause them to have yet-another-hamburger. It might even be beneficial in the long run.
    Has anyone here accounted for medical costs of NOT pushing that extra weight? Maybe this will be beneficial to the society at large with reduced costs in medical treatment of overweight people, energy- and medicin production-costs, reduced fuel consumption due to less weight to carry and decreased wear on staircases, rollercoasters and shoes?

    Maybe this is the start of a new Revolution. 😉

  14. Michael February 9, 2008 at 2:07 pm

    I really hate revolving doors. There is no worse way of having the threshold of an exterior and an interior interrupted. I’m sure we can think of another way to generate electricity while not intruding on the entrance like that.

  15. gregb February 8, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    The numbers just don’t work out. Even a lobby with 6 revolving doors would be lucky to generate 200 watts of power during the morning rush, and much less the rest of the day. Maybe 50 watts average during 8 hours. Ignore for a second the argument over conversion of biomass to food to arm-wrestling the door, or the need for braking mechanisms. The architect could simple eliminate one bulb in the lobby, and save more energy than all 6 motor generators combined. Throw in the cost of the system, the energy used to manufacture and install the motors, and its just a dumb idea. Because the numbers don’t add up.

    Lets say the motors cost $1000 each. That’s six thousand dollars, which could be used to buy energy efficient LED or CFL bulbs. An LED bulb will last 15 years and cost $20, and save about 20 W/bulb over even fluorescent tubes. So the same amount of investment could generate 50 watts of power, or save 6000 watts. Again, the numbers just don’t add up.

  16. GS February 8, 2008 at 6:30 pm


    Most revolving door assemblies on the market today already employ some sort of braking mechanism so that the doors can resist exterior wind loads and interior ‘stack’ loads. Without these brakes, the doors would likely revolve non-stop, with or without human interaction. It would seem to make sense that an electrical generator would impose no greater resistance if the braking mechanism were omitted and replaced entirely with the generator alone. The generator would then serve as the ‘brake’ when the doors were not in use. The net result yields ‘free’ energy, door control, and no net increase in per-capita hamburger (i.e. food energy) consumption.

  17. Pit February 8, 2008 at 3:57 pm

    Wasted kinetic energy? I suggest to better use the energy thats put into fitness centers equipment each day instead of this revolving door generator. Because those people really just want to burn calories and nothing else. They may as well do it to generate electricity.
    But all those ideas of harnessing “free”, “superfluous” energy by walking around are really no good idea. Those inventions definitely either slow down the people or make them use more energy than usually needed for the same old tasks, like opening doors or walking in train stations or whatever “great” inventions like these that are there.

  18. Diana February 8, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    OMG like it would really hurt most of America to burn off a cheeseburger… If anything most Americans NEED the extra calorie burn…. Maybe we should just start by installing them in fast food joints?

  19. Carl Fiorica February 8, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Let’s think for a minute about not just where the technology is at today, but where it can go in the future. Inventions like these tend to be a stepping stone for greater, more efficient inventions. Yes, the amount of electricity likely to be produced is small (though that should not be assumed until it is verified by looking at the specs), however down the road, it may become more efficient. Ever hear of the saying, “every little bit counts”, that’s where we are today with our environment and without smaller steps, we can’t take the larger ones that make the most difference. Inventions like these get us started in the right direction. Instead of trying to disprove it and trash it, try to make it better.

    Yes there are other things we can do to conserve energy, but’s that for a different article. Every little effort we can make to recover even 0.5% of wasted kinetic energy is better than not even trying.

  20. pl February 8, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    As a lot of intelligent people on this site have already explained this is a poor idea. The amount of energy generated is miniscule and even when scaled among many doors and buildings this still adds up to next to nothing. Throw in the expense of manufacturing these and you’ve got a loss. Why can’t we have more scientifically sound ideas for generating power where someone actually does the basic calculations before sending it off to the marketing dept.? Ridiculous! I’m with the others conservation is the way not crap like this.

  21. DCGaymer February 8, 2008 at 9:41 am

    Everyone knows there’s a nearly indefatigable amount of energy in children. So I’d suggest hooking the generator’s up to Merry -Go-Rounds.

  22. jero February 8, 2008 at 7:39 am

    Hey! Don’t forget about the rest of the world, inventions may extend out of your little country. I don’t think it would demand more human energy to open your mind. Sustainability has an important social component, specially for the poor you (we) dig in.
    I liked to read your discussion. I will only add about braking and generating that it just has to be modulled in one hand, and that we make a lot of unproductive movements apart from pulling doors so it’s more of a victory.
    Johnny be good!

  23. stephen dunlop February 8, 2008 at 3:44 am

    i was always under the impression that revolving doors were intentionally heavy so it couldnt get blown open by gusts of wind. lighter building materials could therefore be used and no additonal big macs would be required

  24. kenneth February 8, 2008 at 3:18 am


  25. EllisGL February 7, 2008 at 11:05 pm

    Throw in some solar cells in the door and cover the floors with piezo generators, might be able to power something. Oh and put generators on the down spouts to collect the power of the rain. Of course using LED lighting instead of incandescent and fluorescent lighting would help more. Getting rid of CRTs, Plasmas, over powered computers would help too.

  26. EE February 7, 2008 at 9:45 pm


    This would barely power a nightlight even if someone spent all day walking in a circle.

    Coupled with the energy required to create it, this is a HUGE net loss for the environment.

  27. John February 7, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    I think a better way to save energy would be to turn off the elevators and escalators. Let all this wonderful human power be used in hoisting human bodies up stairs on their own power instead of through doors. It would save an enormously larger amount of energy than these revolving doors, and would not cost any more than the effort to turn OFF a few switches.

  28. Kevin Shrishiphan February 7, 2008 at 9:28 pm

    Great… you MIGHT be able to get 40 watts of inconsistent power from this device…they should just ban plasma tvs if they want to conserve.

  29. Chris Morrell February 7, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    I find this concept very interesting along with the piezo-electric sidewalks proposed to power street lights. Considering how grossly overweight the majority of America is, the few extra calories per day expended revolving such a door would be better for their overall health. I’m curious how many revolutions would be necessary to offset the costs of manufacturing the entire door. If we are talking a year or two then start rolling these suckers out ASAP.

  30. Bjorn February 7, 2008 at 8:28 pm

    I agree with Carl and Teho. Besides its not like the door has to have an immense generator, even if its a small generator that only taps a perencage of the energy generated it all adds up

  31. gregb February 7, 2008 at 8:18 pm

    Its true the amount of food burned to revolve the door is small, but so is the amount of energy produced. Really tiny. Imagine, as teho points out, you use the generator in the door instead of the gasket friction, to slow the rotation. I estimate about a 20 lb force for a meter of rotation, or a generous 100 Joules. Which is 0.00003 KW-hours. Even assuming 10 people a minute pass into the lobby, that’s only enough energy to light a 100 watt bulb for 10 minutes out of every hour.

    You may have seen a person on a stationary bicycle peddling madly, and they manage to barely keep a 100W bulb lit. So compared to the occasional person roatating a revolving door, its really pitiful.

    You will hear about similarly charming but equally silly ideas proposed to harvest “free” energy from the impact of people walking in a train station. It turns out about 10% of the energy you dissipate while walking could be recovered though fancy generator hidden in floor tiles. But again, hardly worth the trouble.

  32. Bob February 7, 2008 at 8:14 pm


  33. another matt February 7, 2008 at 7:32 pm

    I’m guessing the energy produced is rather small for a single person. I think all buildings should be required to replace ALL doors with these (both for access to the building and access between rooms inside the building) in order to operate the automatic doors required for disabled access (I hope no one in congress is reading this sarcastic post).

  34. teho February 7, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    By the way, since the resistance of a simple generator like the one shown increases with speed, it’s perfect for a revolving door. The harder you push, the more resistance you get. Exactly like the brakes in standard designs. Except instead of generating friction and heat, you’re generating useful electricity.

  35. teho February 7, 2008 at 7:14 pm

    There’s no reason that you can’t make an electricity-generating revolving door that requires _exactly the same force to use_ as standard ones.

    Ever wondered why standard revolving doors have so much friction? They actually have brakes so people don’t break their arms or necks by pushing them around too fast.

    So you take off the brakes and add a generator.

    All you physics pedants (Hugo, Pit, gregb) are missing the forest for the trees.

  36. Sager Unknown February 7, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    To be 100% honest with the amount of food americans already eat, people will not need to eat more for that extra push needed to move the revolving door. It may actually help 70% of Americans get back to a “normal” weight rather then have there fat arses catered to by automatic doors.

    On another note I think this is a great idea.

  37. Carl Fiorica February 7, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Also, please remember that typical building codes will not allow for a door to be so difficult to open up that one would need to burn the calories contained in one meal to open it. Remember doors have to be able to be used by everybody, able-bodied and not so able-bodied.

  38. Carl Fiorica February 7, 2008 at 4:15 pm


    Actually I am quite aware of “the principles of a generator ” being an engineer myself. What I am trying to get at is the overblown notion that a person using the door will create much more of a need for food just by using it…thus the “inefficiency of the energy conversion via food” argument is nil. Besides, have we not heard of the growing obesity problem in America? It would do everybody some good to exert some extra energy sometimes.

  39. Pit February 7, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    To Carl Fiorica: You seem to be unaware of the principles of a generator and the accompanying Lorentz force, which always acts against the inducting force. So you definitely have to apply more force and thus use more energy to keep the door going. It’s literally a resistor. And the previous speakers are right about the inefficiency of the energy conversion via “food”.

  40. Emily February 7, 2008 at 12:44 pm

    At our office building the revolving door is automatic and revolves when a human presence sets off its sensor. Therefore, I do not need to eat more in order to go through the door and in fact much less than I would if I pushed or pulled open a standard door. Since my mere presence sets the door in motion,by walking through it I am transferring my energy to be harvested for use. Bravo – people should think more about this simple but effective concept!

  41. Carl Fiorica February 7, 2008 at 11:35 am

    I can’t believe all of the naysayers I read on these posts…read the article is says “provide free electricity to the installation site.” Electricity generated by random people entering/exiting the building…If more ingenious inventions were thought of to harness the energy produced from all the little activities we do everyday, we would not have to worry about electricity. To compare it to how much a person has to eat to turn a door?!?!?! Give me a break, they were going to turn the door anyway and they aren’t going to expend anymore “human energy” then they were already planning too. How much extra energy does it really take to turn a door? Not much, It’s not like a person is going to have to eat an extra hamburger to turn the door. It’s a good idea, there should be more ideas like these.

  42. sylrayj February 7, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Now we just need one for the children to be racing around in – we’ll never have to worry about power again! :)

  43. gregb February 7, 2008 at 9:50 am

    Actually, there is an old story about Thomas Edison along these lines. Henry Ford was visiting Edison one day, and found it hard to push open the front gate at Edison’s yard. When Ford chided the world’s greatest inventor about his rusty gate, Edison replied Ford had just pumped a gallon of water out of the well!

    This kind of invention does not tap free energy, because it makes people work slightly harder and thus eat slighty more food, and the conversion of solar energy to plant to human food is among the most inefficient processes imaginable. An example of “free” energy is the heat dissipated by a solar cell array. Only 20% of the sunlight is converted to electricity in a PV array- the rest to heat. So if you collect that heat and used it to create domestic hot water, the world (and your energy bill) is that much farther ahead.

  44. Pit February 7, 2008 at 8:06 am

    This is nonsense. The energy used to turn the revolting doors is in no way wasted. It’s just transformed biological energy. And to add some kind og generator into the doors core would certainly cost more power und thus energy to turn it to the same degree. So you don’t really harness the “wasted” energy, but the extra energy thats needed to even turn the door far enough to get through it.

    The only possibility would be to somehow leave the generator disconnected and only connect it after all persons got through and nobody is left inside and the door is just coasting.

  45. Hugo February 7, 2008 at 4:47 am

    Have the engineers thought about the energy needed to overcome the door’s friction? Revolving doors already need a good push to be set to turn, any electricity tapped of the revolving door is additional energy one needs to produce to be able to enter (or exit) the building, therefor more cows need to be eaten (according to the flowchart). I don’t think it is such a good idea. At least not for my house…

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