The average human takes 3,000-5,000 steps a day. Seems like a lot, but most health experts would tell you to average 10,000 a day (but that’s a post for another time…).
What if we could harness power from some of the steps you take each day?
Much like a mini man-hole cover, the recycled rubber paving slabs harvest kinetic energy from the impact of people stepping on them. According to the company, each slab can then deliver tiny bursts of electricity to nearby lights, signs or appliances. They also are able to store energy for up to three days in an on-board battery.
Sounds like an interesting proposition: using one of the most common of human movements to generate power. Multiply 5,000 steps each day by 6.9999 billion (as of 10.28.11), and you’ve got the potential for some serious energy.
Yet with such large numbers in mind, Pavegen is starting small. Each step produces only enough electricity to keep an LED-powered street lamp lit for 30 seconds. According to the company, their product is currently used to power street lamps, displays and signage. They also have a new installation at the newly opened Westfield Stratford City Mall — which expects an estimated 30 million customers in its first year – when the city plays host to the 2012 Summer Olympics.
According to the company, that should be enough feet to power about half the mall’s outdoor lighting needs. And while this technology seems to have promise, it does come with obstacles. As usual, cost is the biggest issue. But Pavegen is confident they can overcome the cost barriers once they go into mass production.
It’s certainly an interesting proposition. If anything, this technology could gain traction based on its kitsch-value alone. I can see the publicity stunts now – Times Square, an installation, and Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia re-creating their dancing piano scene in Big to help power the Times Square Jumbotron.
I know I’d cross the street to give one of these pavegens a stomp – especially if I knew it would generate a little electricity. Would you?
Article by Tim Laughlin, appearing courtesy Xcel Energy Blog.