Wonderful Things: Energy-harvesting paving slab

‘Cause the power you’re supplying, is electrifying…

Have you ever looked out the window in the wee hours of the night and seen street lights glowing and absolutely nobody in the street benefitting from them?  These days we hear a lot about our energy consumption and the size of our carbon footprints pretty much everywhere we go.  So, witnessing the waste that goes on right outside my front door whilst I am made to feel guilty for leaving my television on standby makes me feel a bit fed up with the whole issue.

My interest is reinvigorated, though, when I hear of the progress being made by scientists working on the development of new technologies that use  renewable resources to meet our energy needs.

One development, in particular, has caught my attention and is one that could help my local council with the street light problem.  This is the energy harvesting paving slab.

It is a paving slab that generates electricity as you step on it whilst you shop for the latest designs from Top Shop! It works by harnessing the  kinetic energy created by your footstep pressing down on the slab and converting this energy into electricity which can either be used immediately or stored in a battery for later use.

Turning footsteps into power!

Turning footsteps into power! Energy harvesting paving slabs in East London

The slab itself is made from old rubber tyres and the internal components are made from recycled aluminium.  It moves just 5mm when it is stepped upon but this is enough to generate up to 2.1 watts continuously when it is frequently in use.  This power can be used to operate many different appliances, from street lights to information display stands.

The slabs are made by a company called Pavegen and have already won the award for the most innovative product at Ecobuild 2010.  The slabs have already been tested in East London and Pavegen now have plans to install them in train stations, shopping centres and airports, so I guess it’s only a matter of time before we can all start to generate electricity by just going about our daily lives.

 

So, would you walk the long way home in order to step on these slabs? 

For the moment, these slabs have been tested in London, where there are loads of people but what about more rural places?  Where do you think these paving slabs should be placed here to be most effective?  Hopscotch, anyone?

The energy harvesting paving slab is on display in Atmosphere on the 2nd floor of the Wellcome Wing. 

-Kate Davis

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