Power Walking Innovation
A basic law of physics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Kinetic energy pushes us forward each time we take a step. According to the Mayo Clinic, the average American takes 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day, with many aiming for 10,000 or more. That’s a great deal of energy that gets transferred to the ground unused.
As a design and technology student in London, Laurence Kemball-Cook devised a plan to collect the secondhand energy of footsteps and store it in a usable format. In 2009, a kinetic floor tile that could generate clean electricity was born. Today, Kemball-Cook is CEO of Pavegen, one of many companies looking for ways to advance sustainable energy. Pavegen has installed more than 200 projects in 37 countries.
Pavegen's sidewalks are made of tile-like triangular platforms. When someone steps on a tile, a flywheel is activated to spin extremely fast, generating power that is sent to and stored in a battery. Although these smart sidewalks do not have the capacity to power entire cities, they can provide energy to office spaces, shopping malls, neighborhoods with streetlamps, sports games and music festivals. While the company works to lower costs and extend their application, Pavegen has been using its energy-producing sidewalks as an educational tool for sustainability awareness.