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A Sustainable Lifestyle: Here's a method to use less fossil fuels - make use of human energy to crea

A Sustainable Lifestyle: Here's a method to use less fossil fuels - make use of human energy to create heat instead of heating buildings.

In the film of the same name, The Matrix, unwitting humans were able to siphon body heat off by machines in order to use as energy sources. Although it's not the best situation we could be in however, the premise of the idea of using the heat that we generate to warm our homes and buildings - could assist in helping combat climate change by reducing the use of fossil fuels.

Let's examine the science. The human body produces approximately 100 watts of energy when it is at the moment of rest. If you exercise, that heat can easily surpass 1,000 watts. This energy can heat a litre water in just six minutes. In comparison an ordinary (3 kW) kettle at home requires longer than two minutes to warm a litre.

Where does the energy source originates? Mostly, food. Internal metabolism in the body utilizes digestible products like fat acids and carbohydrates, to generate the energy required to power the muscle to contract. However, between 70 and 95 percent of energy created is released in the form of heat. This suggests that the human body isn't particularly efficient in generating electrical energy using food. actually, it's a little less efficient than an petrol engine.

The majority of this heat is eliminated from the body through convection, radiation and sweating. It reduces the temperature of skin through evaporate. This is why, in humid and hot temperatures you may not feel comfortable as sweat doesn't evaporate in the same way as it does into the saturated air.

"When people are gathered indoors the heat begins to increase. Imagine a theater with 500 people. Assuming that each person is producing 100 watts of thermal energy that means 50 kW of energy will be released overall, which is equivalent to 25-30 standard kitchen kettles that are continuously heating water."

Infrared cameras are in a position to observe heat moving between bodies and their surroundings. These cameras display areas with more heat (where more heat is lost) as lighter in color and cooler regions as darker, indicating the areas where the most heat is lost.

In the event that people gather inside the heat begins to build. Imagine a theater with a capacity of 500. If each person produces 100 Watts of thermal energy, that means 50 kW of energy will be generated in all: similar to 25-30 kettles in a kitchen that are continuously boiling water.

If the people involved are physically active, like dancing, for example - together, they can generate 150 kW of energy, or 3600 kWh in all hours of the day. The average family within the UK consumes approximately 1,000 kWh of gas each month. Because a typical domestic gas boiler is about 30 kW power output 500 dancers can generate the energy required by five of the gas boilers.

The next concern is how the human warmth can be utilized to heat buildings. In general, buildings utilize air conditioning or ventilation systems to decrease temperatures and improve air quality. This heat then gets transferred to the environment, which is a waste of energy. Instead, crowd heat can be extracted using mechanical heat exchangers, which are devices which transmit heat energy from one location to another and are then utilized to warm air from buildings that are adjacent to each other.

Another option that is more flexible is to make use of heat pumps, which work somewhat like reverse air conditioning systems , which pump heat into instead of out. The heat is also stored to be used later for instance, in bricks that have been modified or water cylinders. The technology is employed in data centres in which the huge amount of heat produced by computers must be extracted in order to prevent system failure.

The action of thermal energy

The idea of body heating systems is already being implemented in a few regions around the globe. In Sweden there is a Kungsbrohuset office building, which is located over Stockholm's central subway station - is already warm due to the body heat generated by daily passengers who pass through the station, cutting down the need for heating by 5 to 10 percent. The heat pump draws the heat from the station, which is stored in water, which is then used to heat the offices on top.

Additionally, in Mall of America in Minnesota the energy generated by sunlight and the heat generated by over 40 million visitors annually has been able to replace central heating. The BODYHEAT system, which is currently under installation in an arts centre in Glasgow is utilizing heat pumps to collect the energy generated by clubbers to store the energy in boreholes underground which will supply the building with hot and warm water.

I've examined the heating system of Nottingham Playhouse, with an auditorium that can hold 750 people. We discovered that when audiences increase inside the theatre, so too does the temperature. This means that the central heating could be reduced during nights with huge crowds. By using this method it is possible to create "smart buildings" that can adjust their heating according to the amount of people that are in the space and the rise in temperature. This easy solution is applicable to a variety of kinds of buildings, including those that don't have heat pumps.

In light of the recent increase in energy costs, and the growing push to the goal of achieving the goal of net-zero carbon emission technologies like these can provide an easy and radical method to reduce carbon emissions and lower cost of energy through the use of the waste heat that fills up busy public areas.


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