The Piezoelectric Staircase - A cleaner future, one step at a time
Shu Hua (Jenny) Li, Judy Li
Eric Hamber Secondary
Floor Location : M 124 N

This project presents a cost-efficient, plausible and renewable alternative to fossil fuels; piezoelectricity. Through multiple stages of testing, we have created a model of a staircase that could be installed in schools, and if successful, become a widely used product in society. Our final model produces 50V and 2mA per step. It consists of a step stool to represent a two step staircase with 24 piezo plates, 2 plastic studs on top of each one of the. Each plate is connected with soldered wires and on top of the plastic studs is a wooden cutting board, while a yoga mat serves as the bottom. The plastic studs serve as protection for the wires attached to the piezo plates while both the studs and the yoga mat aid in the deformation of the plates, maximizing electricity production. Two rows of piezo plates lead to one bridge rectifier, soldered onto a circuit board, and the positives and negatives of each bridge are connected to other bridges’ positive and negative terminals respectively. The wires connecting the bridges stick out of the circuit board so that they can be connected to a voltmeter, which proves that the staircase can generate electricity live.

Through our calculations, assuming that each student climbs 240 steps(average steps found through surveys), we found that Eric Hamber Secondary can produce 246kWh using this staircase. As the VSB is rebuilding many schools, including our own, for seismic upgrades, this would be a great opportunity to implement these stairs into our schools. According to a 2017 study, most piezoelectric panels have a durability of 20 years and an average 1m^2 panel, from companies the three leading companies in piezoelectricity now is $300. If we were to cover all of Hamber Secondary with piezoelectric panels, it would cost $4.5 million. The current budget for Hamber’s seismic upgrade is $80 million, meaning implementing piezoelectric panels into the entirety of our grounds would only take up 5.6% of our budget. Furthermore, in 2017, the VSB was responsible for the production of 17,211 tonnes of CO2. With large enough capacitors, we could create sustained energy for all schools and reduce the VSB's annual CO2 emissions by 91% using this staircase. But it doesn't stop there: due to the versatility of piezo places, this concepts used to produce this staircase can be implemented into all flooring and staircases of all buildings. By adapting to this form of electricity, we can reduce all carbon dioxide emissions from buildings using natural gas, which serves as 24% of the world’s total greenhouse emissions. With our product, we can all take a cleaner step to the future.