Alik Ghosh
Alik Ghosh
Tech and research enthusiast. Intends to solve real-life problems.

Pavegen Tiles: Harvesting Energy from Footsteps

Pavegen Tiles: Harvesting Energy from Footsteps

Sustainable green energy needs and demands are increasing globally.To meet the growing demands one alternative source of energy generation could be human energy harvesting, where the source of energy is the kinetic energy of the human body. Walking, jogging, running, or dancing footsteps which are rapid activities need a lot of energy. This wasted energy can be transformed into reusable energy.


Laurence Kemball-Cook, a graduate of Loughborough University, recognized that the footsteps were an untapped potential energy resource. To commercialize his idea, he launched his company ‘Pavegen Systems’ in 2009. His company started pioneering the technology of kinetic floor tiles.

Fundamentals of Pavegen Tiles:



Pavegen tiles are kinetic floor tiles that capture energy generated when people walk on them. The tiles transform footsteps into electricity which can be used to power off-grid applications like street lighting. The top surface of the tiles is made from recycled rubber and stainless steel. The tiles flex by about 5 millimeters when stepped on. Each tile can produce power between 2 to 8 watts if each step lasts about half a second. Pavegen came up with their prototype kinetic tile using piezoelectric material at the beginning of their journey.

What is Piezoelectricity:



It is a phenomenon of certain materials to generate an electrical charge in response to applied mechanical stress. The material temporarily becomes a small battery with a positive terminal on one face and a negative terminal on the opposite face. Piezoelectric materials absorb the pressure of footsteps, convert it into electrical charges and store it, which later can be used as a power source. PZT(Lead Zirconate Titanate), PVDF (Polyvinylidene difluoride), etc. are used as a piezoelectric transducer.

Latest Model:

The latest version of the tile can generate enough current to power a light for 70 seconds from just three footsteps and generates 200 times more power than the prototype launched back in 2009. The triangular shape of the new tiles maximizes the output power. Every part of these tiles can produce almost similar energy, unlike the rectangular ones, due to better load distribution capability.


Underneath these floor tiles are vertical electromagnetic induction generators. When people walk on these tiles, tiny flywheels, hidden underneath, spin with a series of magnets and copper coils to create electricity. The more people working on them, the longer the flywheel spins, and the more they rotate, the more electricity will be generated.
Each tile contains unique wireless communications technology too. It uses only 1% of its power to transmit data about the number of footfalls and energy generated.

Advantages:



  • These tiles are completely renewable and eco-friendly technology.
  • The top surface is built up of recycled rubber.
  • Less maintenance cost.
  • It is waterproof and dampfree.
  • Harvesting human power to produce energy is the best practice to fulfill the energy demand.

Disadvantages:

  • The initial cost is very high.
  • Uncertainty about economic life.
  • Using it as a primary energy source is not possible.

Future:

The new model of this tile can send wireless data. It will be helpful for crowd-flow modeling to track the movements of people throughout the cities. Hence, Lighting controls will be more efficient.


Pavegen hopes to make the tiles as affordable as regular floor tiles and dreams to see them installed in offices, schools, and public spaces all over the world.

Conclusion:



This technology looks quite promising and suits the needs of the current time . Creating electricity from our daily doings is essentially a free ride once the initial cost recovers. In some ways, it is even better than solar or wind power because it is independent of the weather. Kinetic Tiles depend on the activities of humans. As with other green-energy sources, we can hope that the cost will eventually come down, and this technology will become more practical.

References

Note : Utmost care has been taken to credit the original authors/sources and to make these as apt as possible.

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