Electronics

Electricity-generating paving tiles get some smarts

Electricity-generating paving ...
The tiles have a new triangular design that is said to maximize energy and data capture
The tiles have a new triangular design that is said to maximize energy and data capture
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The tiles have a new triangular design that is said to maximize energy and data capture
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The tiles have a new triangular design that is said to maximize energy and data capture
Each tile can output 5 W over the duration of a footstep
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Each tile can output 5 W over the duration of a footstep
The tiles can be customized with branding and used in both indoor and outdoor locations
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The tiles can be customized with branding and used in both indoor and outdoor locations
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UK tech firm Pavegen has been harvesting pedestrian power with floor tiles that convert the kinetic energy of footsteps into electricity since 2009. Today, the firm has launched a new version of the tiles and, in addition to being more efficient, they are able to capture footfall data.

Pavegen's tiles are built in such a way that they afford a degree of movement when they are stepped upon, which can then be used to generate electricity. They are primarily aimed at being used in high-footfall public locations, but they've also been used at events like the Paris Marathon and to light football pitches in Brazil and Nigeria.

The firm says it is now shifting its focus to data capture as well as from electricity production. A new triangular design is said to maximize energy and data capture, with the new tiles said to produce over 200 times more power than the first version manufactured in 2009. Pavegen tells Gizmag that each tile can now output 5 W over the duration of a footstep.

The tiles are designed to be durable and simple to install, and are suited for both indoor and outdoor use. Energy produced can, of course, be put to any use, but the firm cites lighting and advertising boards as two common examples of city infrastructure that are well suited. It says that the tiles can be used to power off-grid lighting, perhaps illuminating a person's path as they walk along.

Each tile can output 5 W over the duration of a footstep
Each tile can output 5 W over the duration of a footstep

In being able to capture data, the new tiles have been positioned to better integrate with smart city infrastructure. They will make it possible to work out how footfall varies in different locations, as well as to track directional footfall and footfall patterns over time.

Pavegen has also partnered with Tribal Planet to create a mobile app. Having downloaded the app, individuals will be able to collect a "digital currency" each time they step on a tile. It will then be possible to trade this for rewards or charitable donations.

Pavegen says it can't disclose much in the way of cost for the new tiles at present, other than to say that they are far cheaper to manufacture than previous versions, as a result of a more stripped down design. Two installations of the new tiles have already been confirmed, at the Westfield shopping center in London, UK, and at Dupont Circle in Washington DC, US.

Source: Pavegen

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5 comments
Ray_Diminco
The energy generated with these tiles is not free. It takes a tiny amount of energy from people's foot steps. The effect of this will be like walking in dry sand. A person walking on these tiles will get tired faster. Although the effect will not be as pronounced as with walking on dry sand.
At the end of the day people walking on sidewalks covered with these tiles will burn more calories and, probably, eat more. So, no net energy. The energy was just transformed from one form into another. It would make more sense to just install a small solar panel, rather than rely on supply chain of energy with several inefficient transformation steps. No pun intended.
Karl L
Ray they are putting these in shopping malls or either high traffic areas not under every step you take for an entire day. The amount of energy it leeches from me while I walk past the Gap isn't going to cause me to eat more. I understand I'm transferring energy but its insignificant addition to what I'm already using to walk. This is a great idea for high traffic areas. It also doesn't mean you can't still leverage solar or any other forms of energy collection.
ljaques
I tried to find out what kind of power these produced, but the site only showed that they are 5w @12v. It doesn't say per tile or per set, as they're sold in minimum 2x4' sets. Since they also send data out at every step, more power is lost to this. Nowhere is price mentioned, so it's likely quite steeply priced. A 2013 article says they cost $76USD per tile (rectangular style with round center). I'm with Ray. Solar would be better overall and would cost considerably less. Nice idea, but not cost-effective.
charlieFreak
It's time ideas like these were looked at with a more critical eye. "output 5 W over the duration of a footstep". Say that's 500ms (very generous), then that's 2.5J of energy. You're not going to do much with that. What sort of resources are used in the construction? Seems to me it's likely to be more wasteful and polluting than using coal to generate the electricity.
MattII
@Ray, Solar panels require sunlight, thus they do best when they're not being walked on.