Gallery: The Human Water Pump Harvests Kinetic Energy


Gunwook Nam’s Human Pump is a clever solution to the world’s water crisis that captures kinetic energy generated from human foot traffic and uses it to power a system of pumps that bring fresh drinking water to the surface in a playful, dramatic and life-saving waterfall. One of three winners in the Re:construct competition sponsored by San Fransisco’s Urban Re:Vision, the project is a brilliant example of socially responsible design targeted towards communities without easy access to water.

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  1. budweiser_072000 August 6, 2011 at 9:15 am

    thats a cool concept idea but i cant imagine it getting made any time soon which is a shame, for more info on kinetic energy try here – kinetic energy

  2. zackaders May 27, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    how does it work? It is highly unlikely the suggested Piezokinetic technology (MIT) would handle the energy load required… not to mention the multimillion dollar price tag.

    Agreed, very bad look for that jury

  3. janice January 14, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    what a great invention…….i hope you will post the whole document of the invention…

  4. hughmama October 29, 2008 at 4:20 pm

    Going to have to agree with gregb on this one. What is it with competition juries lately?
    After that ridiculous (and ugly) business card read won the supreme red dot award too. It’s a long road back to reputability from there.
    This concept is like a bunch of feel-good western design wank thinking crammed together and given a pretty picture.

  5. gregb October 21, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Well, you simply can’t wish an idea like this into reality. Especially when drinkable water supply isn’t a matter of design aesthetics, but of life and death. There simply isn’t enough power generated by walking across a bridge- period. (The MIT project is at best a concept- it’s not even a working system that could function in a desert with heat, rain, sand and scavengers). And this is also an expensive solution. People are DYING in Africa, and you could install 100 working hand or animal powered pumps for the cost of this folly.

    Its one thing to give prizes to dance floors or train terminals- just more noise in the system. But the jury should be ashamed of themselves for this choice.

  6. Steve N. Lee October 21, 2008 at 2:52 am

    This sounds a cool idea, but I don’t get it.

    If the technology is so ready available and, though I may be reading too much into what’s said above, relatively cost effective, why aren’t we employing such technology in our towns and cities right now? Imagine the enormous costs of lighting everywhere we live – now imagine how many people walk through out cities every single day. Why aren’t we capturing this energy? If it’s so easy, wouldn’t this be a major step towards cutting emissions and developing a sustainable lifestyle?

    Yes, I’ve seen the phone chargers and the dancefloor, but, especially the latter, I’ve always thought they were quite gimmicky and didn’t really believe they could make a valuable contribution to sustainability. But this post implies there are vast untapped resources. Let’s hope it’s right. And let’s hope we get to see the technology spread across our urban landscapes wherever possible.

    Steve N. Lee
    author of eco-blog
    and suspense thriller ‘What if…?’

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