Energy harvesting comes in many shapes and forms, and the progress in for example solar power has been significant during the last decade. However, some bright-minded people think even further ahead. Whereas this of course does not imply that we should discard all our current and viable options where it comes to sustainable energy, it is undoubtedly interesting to see how new sources might become utilized in the future.
What has been labeled “The Sharing Economy” has included a collection of successful companies during the last years. Vital examples range from carpooling, to property rental and peer-to-peer lending. Every sharing economy concept is naturally similar to the other, in the way of making previously underutilized or wasted resources available for the market. Nothing wrong with that, it obliviously works perfectly for some of the world’s hottest and highest valued startups.
However, now an exciting young company again thinks similarly but at the same time impressively differently. Actually, we will go as far as calling it a state-of-the-art example in stretching conceptual frames. The available and underutilized resource in the case of young company Pavegen is nothing less than enormous amount of energy created by human footsteps.
Biztek Mojo reports that the company has recently developed kinetic energy harvesting and power generating systems of mind boggling size and application. They envision their technology in pavements, school corridors and even recently saw it installed on a football pitch in Rio de Janerio. The pitch has been equipped with 200 kinetic tiles which work with accompanying solar panels to power the lights for 10 hours at a time. The football pitch, which previously suffered frequent blackouts, is now literally people-powered. The material Pavegen uses is covered with a soft surface, not unlike the surface found on many playgrounds and can turn 1 step into 7 watts of energy.
An article by The Telegraph states that Pavegen has been shortlisted for this year’s UK Private Business Awards, has now passed the £1m turnover mark and is on target to double that this financial year. The company’s CEO (Laurence Kemball-Cook) tells The Telepgraph that the next year will be pivotal for the company, and reveals that the company’s technology is due to be installed outside the White House next spring in its biggest US project to date. The CEO further claims that wind and solar alternatives are less efficient than Pavegen’s technology, and are also dependent on weather and geography.
So what is the technology that constitutes the foundation of the company’s solution? It is called the piezoelectric effect, and whereas many of us have heard the term quite few of us knows what it is. Basically, piezoelectricity is the electric charge that accumulates is solid materials and biological matter in response to mechanical stress. For instance, when crystals are put under pressure they produce an electric charge. Modern manufacturing technology has now made it possible to put piezoelectric devices in a great variety of places.
According to CNN Tech everything from footfalls to climbing stairs and opening doors, cities will continuously look for ways to tap into the rich well of mechanical energy generated in our everyday lives. Rush hour commuters in metro stations as well as dancing people in nightclubs or the jumping crowds in concerts constitute real and powerful sources of energy. We believe that the energy harvesting companies are onto something really interesting here, and we sure hope that they succeed on their respective journeys.