The Power of Our Feet

Ian Somerhalder Foundation

There are seven billion people in the world, walking, running, rolling, and moving at any given moment in some form or another. Every footfall made carries force as we propel ourselves in motion. Together, we create impressive amounts of kinetic energy. What if we could harness that energy and use it to create power? Guess what? We can! Pavegen Systems is paving the way, literally, to create renewable electricity!

Pavegen Systems is a London startup launched in 2009 by industrial design and technology student, Laurence Kemball-Cook, thanks to his brainchild, the Pavegen tile. These green tiles go beyond their color as a specimen of green technology. These tiles are designed to harness the kinetic energy from our footsteps and convert it into electric energy to store in a battery or to operate a range of low-power applications such as lighting, signage, digital advertisements and Wi-Fi zones!

Along with harvesting renewable energy, Pavegen tiles are designed to have the smallest possible carbon footprint. The rubber used to make these tiles is 100% recycled from truck tires making it durable and waterproof. Eighty-percent of the materials used for the other components can also be recycled. At the center of each tile are LED-lighted logos that only require 5% of the collected energy.

The average footstep generates seven kilowatts of power. These tiles were designed with the intention of being installed in areas of high foot traffic. If you multiply a single footstep by several million pairs of feet, we could begin to see greener cities lighting up the night skies!

In addition to the existing 30 Pavegen projects installed throughout Europe, this summer twenty of these tiles will be installed in one of Europe’s largest urban malls, Westfield Stratford City Mall, located next to London’s new Olympic stadium. It is estimated that just these 20 tiles alone will be collecting the kinetic energy from the 40 million pedestrians expected to traverse that walkway and power the mall’s outdoor lighting!

As the technology of the tiles improves, Kemball-Cook has high hopes for many more future Pavegen projects. His work has already gained the interest and investment from governments and companies like Seimens. It is his hope that one day these tiles will be installed in mass in cities throughout the world, creating both a greener and renewable future.

Want to know more about Pavegen tiles and current projects? Check out Thomas K. Grose’s article on the National Geographic Daily News and visit the Pavegen website.

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