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Pavegen tiles harvest energy from footsteps

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October 21, 2011

Pavegen tiles harvest kinetic energy from pedestrian traffic

Pavegen tiles harvest kinetic energy from pedestrian traffic

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Can you imagine the power of 50,000 steps a day? Well, Laurence Kembell-Cook, the director of Pavegen Systems imagined it and created Pavegen tiles - a low carbon solution that aims to bring kinetic energy harvesting to the streets. Not surprisingly, the tile is receiving a great deal of attention as a solution for power-hungry cities with a lot of walking traffic.

Designed for use in in high foot-traffic areas, the tiles convert the kinetic energy from footsteps of pedestrians into renewable electricity, which can be stored in a lithium polymer battery or used to power low-wattage, off-grid applications like street lighting, displays, speakers, alarms, signs, and advertising.

Each time someone steps on the tile, a central light illuminates, "connecting" the person to the part they play in producing the 2.1 watts of electricity per hour the tiles can generate (and providing self-sufficient lighting for pedestrian crossings).

Pavegen diagram

The tiles are made from nearly 100-percent recycled materials (mostly rubber) and some marine grade stainless steel. They can be retrofitted to existing structures and are waterproof as well as designed to withstand outdoor conditions.

Pavegen tiles were used as a dance floor at Bestival on the Isle-of-Wright and are currently being tested in East London. They have been successfully installed in a school corridor where they are currently being monitored for durability and performance while helping to power the building. Speaking of durability, each tile is claimed to have a life of approximately 20 million steps or 5 years.

In September 2011 Pavegen received its first commercial order for the London 2012 Olympics Site where they will be used in the crossing between the Olympic stadium and the Westfield Stratford City Shopping Center.

Here's the company's product demo:

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12 Comments

Erm, hang on... first 2.1 Watts is 2.1 Joules per second. So 2.1 Watts per hour would be a rate of change of power. So after 10 hours it would be producing 21 Watts... I'm sure that's not what you mean.

So is that 2.1W average or peak? How much energy is recovered from a 120 pound woman or a 150 pound man walking on it? Joules is what we need to know, total energy, not the rate it is extracted. Power can sound very attractive until duration gets in to the equation and spoils the fun. RADAR is a good example where a peak power of hundreds of kW is only actually present for a couple of microseconds so when the peak power of a weather RADAR is 250kW the average power is around 1.25kW. In this case 2.1W for... 50ms? Twice a minute? 1/30 x 1/20 x 2.1W now we have around 3.5mW average. Say it was 10 times a minute and 100ms duration, that's still only 35mW.

And there's no free ride. If you want to recover significant power then you are going to effectively have humans pedaling your city. They are going to notice the load. Like when you walk on the powered walkway at the airport, or run in sand. People are likely to avoid that unless there's payback. How about putting these things on the down stairways? People probably wouldn't notice that.

Chris Hann
21st October, 2011 @ 09:38 am PDT

They need to have down escalators that use the weight of people to move, then provide resistance with a generator to keep the pace slow and produce electricity. The more weight on it, the more electricity gained. That goes for both my escalator idea and this tile. That's putting America's obesity to good use.

ebrush870
21st October, 2011 @ 03:27 pm PDT

"2.1 watts of electricity per hour" is not a valid measurement, since watts are already an energy-per-time measure,ent. Do they mean 2.1 watt-hours of electricity per hour? Even that does not have sense, because you could simply say an average of 2.1 watts.

Other than that, it seems like a reasonable idea, although it certainly is not going to solve the enrgy shortage or global warming. It might be particularly useful in out-of-the-way places where power lines have not already been strung, or in underdeveloped countries where connection to a grid has not been done in remote areas.

David Charles Leithauser
21st October, 2011 @ 05:46 pm PDT

These would work well in lighting underground, or interior traffic areas. they could be made heavier duty for car traffic as well. parking garages could generate all the power needed to run thier signage, gates, traffic monitors, emergancy lighting, ticket machines. might even generate enough fot the elavators. All of it off the grid. Airports could produce power by simply announcing a gate change from one airport wing to another! foot traffic could supply all thier lighting needs.

kellory
21st October, 2011 @ 07:10 pm PDT

assuming 2.1 watts is its maximum power output, you would need 7 of these panels to light a SINGLE "60W" compact flourescent bulb. If whatever is powered needs to be off grid as said, MASSIVE amounts of redundant batteries would be needed to prevent inevitable brownouts. The costs would be astronomical for little gain.

The only use I could see for this is industrial, for instance, installing them under a gravity fed conveyor belt. Power generation would be constant and reliable.

This is the problem with the environmentalism movement, ANYTHING no matter the cost, is good if it helps the environment. The problem is, there is a finite amount of money in the world, and some things will work better then others. When you go spending unlimited amounts on any old feel good thing, you will soon run out of money. When the BIG fix is hopefully finally discovered, we may not be able to afford it.

The sad fact is any long term solutions have to be cost effective.

But you say "You can't put a price on life!". Malarky I say. Suppose I invent a super drug which will allow anyone who takes it to live 200 without ever being sick. However, it costs 10 million dollars to make one dose. (actual cost, not price gouging) There's no way per capita lifetime income (even over 200 years) is high enough to pay for that.

So yea, you can put a price on life.

Mark Quickel
21st October, 2011 @ 07:11 pm PDT

Only %5 of the energy produced lights up the LED light in the panel. %95 is stored in a battery. (as stated in the video) so 1 panel could light 20 panels with each step, so lay them in heavy traffic areas in strips and use them for lighting. The LED does not need to be part of the panel, it could easily be installed in wall or ceiling panels. Dust the floors with powder and leave it for a normal work day, then examine the floor, to see where the dust was untouched. (these areas would produce nothing) Lay floor panels where traffic has swept the floors clean. (these will be the most productive areas) 1 battery could serve each area, and a simple motion sensor or thermal switch could conserve the charge when no one is present in that area. This would work well in areas not currently wired for power as a stand alone system. out building, cellars, attics, or any place where traffic is light, or it is dificult to run grid tied power.

kellory
22nd October, 2011 @ 05:15 pm PDT

Mark Quickel,

You're starting to sound like Todd Dunning. Only the extremist fringe says, "ANYTHING no matter the cost, is good if it helps the environment," the way you claim. By painting all environmentally-conscious people with the same, broad brush, you seem to imply the opposite, that nothing is worth it when it comes to the environment, even though you state the obvious that it really comes down to cost-effectiveness. Todd used to do something similar here on Gizmag, always saying nuclear energy was the ultimate source and that renewables are all garbage.

The fact is that any intelligent environmentalist would see this exactly for what it is, a flashy gimmick with no real practical application.

Gadgeteer
23rd October, 2011 @ 07:39 am PDT

This story is about an idea. Market forces will determine whether the concept is financially feasible or not. As for environmental regulations just look back at the sixties when the great lakes were cesspools and rivers were catching on fire. Do you want to go back to those days?

fofu
23rd October, 2011 @ 01:56 pm PDT

This just isn't feasible. This is ridiculous.

Articles like this stunt humanity by making semi scientists, inventors and those intrigued actually believe that this sort of thing might even be remotely viable.

Market forces are known - if I can't produce at about a dollar a watt forget it. This won't. No wait - this CAN'T. So ditch it. And stop pretending this sort of vacuous idea benefits humanity. It belittles existing technology and those who work hard to deploy it.

SamD
23rd October, 2011 @ 07:33 pm PDT

Excellent

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
27th October, 2011 @ 11:14 am PDT

Chris Hann & David Charles Leithauser; although I share your scepticism, You got it wrong, Power=Energy/Time; Energy=Power x Time; therefore energy can be expressed as Watt x hour, check your energy bill, you most likely get billed kWh that is a kiloWatt (1000W) x hour.

The article says 2.1 Wh for every step-fall. so you need 476 Steps to get 1 kWh (check how much you pay for that), if the life expectancy is 20 million steps that means it will produce 42000 kWh, It sounds a lot . But, What are the costs? the life expectancy of those batteries? how much of that energy is wasted just by "storing" it, labour costs of installing them?

With 42000 kWh you can lit a 11W Lamp for over 3818 hours if the tile lasts 5 years and 100% of the energy is stored and then delivered (which NEVER is) the lamp would be lit for less than half an hour every day, at the cost of nearly 11000 "step-falls".

Not very good

As always, it is a lot more effective to use efficiently what we've got than to spend money to save money.

I noticed this post is very old. so probably this will go unnoticed.

anyway.......

Ruduberto Goldoraiba
23rd March, 2012 @ 07:51 am PDT

Yes - its very noiticeable the lack of any measure of energy on either the website , or now on this article. And even the image from their twitter feed suggests Pavegen don't know the difference between a Watt and a Watt-hour.

http://www.pavegen.com/sites/default/files/images/gallery/wwf_iphone_lr_0.jpg

Mitra Ardron
5th January, 2014 @ 03:10 pm PST
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