Flexible Paving Harvests Pedestrian Footprints as Energy
Posted in Research by Kate Archdeacon on May 4th, 2011
From “Human power generates new business energy” by Richard Maino:
Go for a walk and help power your town or city. That could happen soon on the streets, according to a UK inventor who says a paving stone in a busy area is stepped on by more than 50,000 pedestrians every day. To harness that power, young graduate Laurence Kemball-Cook came up with the idea of the energy-harvesting floor tile he calls Pavegen. It is the first device of its kind to capture this energy and transform it into electricity. When fitted in heavily pedestrianised areas it can power street lights and bus shelters, providing localised energy independence.
Pavegen is celebrating a contract for the massive Westfield shopping centre on the site of the London 2012 Olympic Games & Paralympic Games as well as its first permanent installation in a school walkway. Some seven million people are expected to walk through Westfield in the two weeks of the 2012 Games and all of them will step on Pavegen tiles. The tiles are made of 100 per cent recycled rubber from old tyres. Every time someone steps on one, it flexes a dynamo technology that stores the kinetic energy produced. The tile glows to show pedestrians they are creating power. The footfall energy could power street lighting, information signage and other applications that spring into life when people approach them.
The tiles can be used almost anywhere. Pupils at a boys’ school in Canterbury, southern England, are now lighting up a corridor simply by walking through it. And the Pavegen tiles will also help the Olympic site’s Westfield shopping centre to meet its stringent targets for environmental sustainability, making it one of the greenest shopping arenas.
Flexing just five millimetres, the Pavegen slabs absorb the kinetic energy produced by every footstep, creating 4-10 watts of electricity. The energy is stored in the slabs in a battery for up to three days or distributed to nearby street lights, information displays and even electrical appliances such as computers and fridges. The energy generated from five slabs can illuminate a bus-stop throughout the night and, with heavy use, a Pavegen installation could pay for itself within two years, with each slab targeted to have a five-year lifespan. The technology is suitable for indoor use and Pavegen is finalising the design for the outdoor units. Only five per cent of the footfall energy goes to the low-energy LED lamp to make the tile glow, while the remaining 95 per cent powers the tile’s environs.
Read the full article by Richard Maino.