This story was originally published by Wired and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
As Fitbit users like to point out, walking burns a lot of calories. But the energy you expend doing it ceases to be useful after your sneakers hit pavement. That’s where Pavegen CEO and founder Laurence Kemball-Cook saw room to create a new kind of sustainable energy technology. His company’s Pavegen floor tiles generate electricity by harnessing the power of footsteps.
The tiles are a kind of kinetic energy recovery system. We’ve seen these before in race cars and buses — but where recovery systems in automobiles convert the kinetic energy normally lost in braking to electrical energy, Pavegen tiles are all about capturing the spring in your step. Tread on a tile and the surface depresses up to one centimeter (Kemball-Cook compares the sensation to walking in a children’s play-area). The downward force drives an energy-storing flywheel inside the tile, which spins to convert kinetic energy into electrical energy through electromagnetic induction. It’s like a generator — only instead of spinning a turbine with wind, water, or coal, it’s spinnin... Read more