All Things Electric - Vol III
Keep the street lights of your neighborhood illuminated by walking beneath them? Meet the future of human generated renewable energy in All Things Electric Volume III.
Your footsteps do more than just schlepp you from one place to another - they generate transferable kinetic energy that prodigally departs untapped. This is where Pavegen Systems come into the picture - they can actually use your footfall to generate electricity. How many times has the same piece of urban pavement been trampled by feet, and lain there unused and inert? Up to 23,000 times per hour at the Victoria Train Station in London, according to the creater of the Pavegen System, 24 year-old Laurence Kemball-Cook.
Five hours of pedestrian walking at a busy time could generate enough energy to, for example, light a bus stop for 12 hours. Pavegen slabs 'flex' an undetectable bit - less than 5mm under every footstep, and use this movement to funnel energy that is then harvested within a Lithion Polymer battery in the slab, and can then be transfered to electrical devices at nightfall, which the Pavegen System automatically detects with a light sensor.
However, the pavegan slabs aren't just practical goldmines of energy deliverance, they also remind people of the importance of using renewable energy and products. The system is, "meant to be a visual icon of saving energy" says Kemball-Cook. The green pavegen slabs include a circular center that lights up when it's stepped upon to signify to the pedestrian that his work is done. Only 5% of the total generated energy is used to light the slab, which is extremely useful for crosswalks where walker safety becomes an issue in darkness.
Things like the information display that accompanies the slabs and street lamps, can use the remaining 95% of the energy transmitted from pedestrian footfall to keep themselves illuminated. The slabs consist of 100 % recycled rubber and require no grid connection on the surface upon which they lie. Experimental Pavegen Systems are continuously being established in the UK, and, will, if proven successful spread in early 2010.
Laurence Kemball-Cook spent two years researching how to power cities using human energy. "We all know solar panels are great, but they aren't that efficent in cities," he says. Educated at Loughborough University, he studied industrial design before accepting a position at Eon for a year, where he investigated how to make sustainable urban furniture.
This exciting kinetic energy development leaves us wondering whats next, maybe gyms that are self-powered by exercise?
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The MINI International Vol. 43
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