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Pavegen kinetic energy tiles seek crowd-funding for school installations

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January 6, 2013

Pavegen was installed at the London 2012 Olympic Games, with people generating energy with...

Pavegen was installed at the London 2012 Olympic Games, with people generating energy without even realizing

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"Create electricity, just by walking" is an evocative statement, and one which surely warrants some attention in these eco-efficient times when the need to seek alternative energy sources is well understood. Pavegen – a system for harvesting kinetic energy from foot traffic, and which the catchy soundbite belongs to – is now being put forward for crowd-funding through Kickstarter with the aim of raising enough money to fund two school projects, one in the U.S. and one in the U.K.

It was October 2011 when we first saw Pavegen detailed and demonstrated here on Gizmag. In a nutshell Pavegen is a system which converts the kinetic energy of people's footsteps into electricity. It manages this by utilizing tiles built into the floor which, when stepped on, harvest the energy created before storing it in lithium polymer batteries. This can then be used to power localized applications such as street lighting, shop signs, or alarms.

The system was described at the time as "a low carbon solution that aims to bring kinetic energy harvesting to the streets," and the company has enjoyed some success in achieving that aim thus far. There are three permanent installations in U.K. schools, and one made up of 12 tiles was installed at the London 2012 Olympic Games. However, in order to move the Pavegen project on, the company behind it has headed to Kickstarter.

A visualization showing how Pavegen works, with each footfall generating a buildup of kine...

Pledges start at US$3 and go up as far as $5,000. The lower figure makes you a "Pavegen Angel," while the higher figure would see you funding a full installation at a selected school. Everybody who backs the project will get to vote for a school of their choice, with the two gaining the most votes winning an installation of the Pavegen system. The video below explains all.

It should be noted that this is the kind of project Kickstarter was originally intended to house, with the backers contributing to a larger effort with world-changing aims instead of merely pre-ordering a new product.

Source: Kickstarter via Designboom

About the Author
Dave Parrack Dave is a technology journalist with a ravenous appetite for gadgets, gizmos, and gubbins. He's based in the U.K., and from his center of operations writes about all facets of modern and future technology. He has learned more in his five years writing for the Web than he did in 11 years at school, and with none of the boring subjects thrown in to the mix.   All articles by Dave Parrack
6 Comments

I've seen systems like this suggested for roads but it seems like it will actually be stealing energy from each car. When I'm walking I don't care but I don't want it to sap my gas mileage.

The Hoff
6th January, 2013 @ 03:21 pm PST

The tiles are usually quite solid, in the manner of a linoleum floor covering. It harvests the "energy" which gravity is imparting to any solid object pressing down on that section of floor, which "energy" would otherwise go to waste anyway. It doesn't make you tired to walk on it - in fact its less tiring to walk on a mat than on a bare floor. It won't add to your car's fuel consumption either. However they do have a crush-tolerance, so a tile that would handle a car might not be able to handle a bus etc. Similarly, a large person in stiletto heels would pose a serious hazard .....

Wayne Ford
7th January, 2013 @ 02:03 am PST

I had the same idea for cars years ago. My thought was to put them on down hills. Save a little breaking for the cars/trucks and reclaim some of that energy. Now with regen braking built into the cars/trucks, maybe it doesn't make sense anymore.

Chaocipher
7th January, 2013 @ 12:16 pm PST

Can you imagine a floor like this in the airport TSA lines? Those lines would generate enough electricity to power the whole airport.

Now we just need a method to capture the frustration factor from standing in those lines and there would be enough to power the whole world.

OpinionsR_Us
7th January, 2013 @ 01:44 pm PST

@Dave

I'm genuinely interested in this and just read up on it, but it doesn't make sense to me. Based on the two Gizmag articles and the Pavegen website, it seems that each tile can only produce about 24kWh before it breaks. (1 million steps = 1,200 Wh and the lifespan is 20 million steps) So each tile, which I'm guessing costs $100s, can only produce $3 worth of electricity. The previous Gizmag article mentions powering streetlamps or digital signage displays with this. That is utterly ludicrous. You would need a never-ending flow of footsteps on 5 tiles just to power a single 60W equivalent LED light (10W required) since the maximum each tile can generate is the equivalent of 2.1Wh for each hour of footsteps. For a digital display, which I'll be generous and say could be run on 100W, you'd need constant traffic on 50 tiles. This technology doesn't make any sense to me. If you can explain it to me in a way that makes it seems useful, I would love to hear it.

Eric Gross
30th January, 2013 @ 07:26 pm PST

Eric is absolutely right! It does NOT make any sense at all... energy doesn't come free. That is basic Physics, from highschool.

If those tiles really produce only 2.4 kWh of energy for their whole lifespan, then THEY ARE NOT SUSTAINABLE.

It means, manufacturing such a product would inevitably result in MORE CO2 EMISSIONS than generating the same amount of kWh with any type of fuel, even coal.

Remember, energy IS INEXPENSIVE. At US$0.10 per kWh, it's dirt-cheap. An average human being can generate maximum 100 W of energy (pedaling an exercise equipment at the gym, for instance). Do it for 1 hr... you get 100 W-hr, or 0.1 kWh - it's worth US$0.01 ! Yes, ONE CENT for a whole hour of pedaling at the gym. Oh, sorry... you're an athlete, ok, then 200 W.... 2 cents for your hour at the gym.

This is nice as an example of what can be done, but this can also be a distraction, driving the focus away from what really needs to be done.

We WILL NOT save the planet by doing this. Instead, change your lightbulbs to LEDs or CFs, buy a smaller car, install efficient thermal insulation at home.

Rubin
21st April, 2013 @ 09:37 pm PDT
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