Sunday, May 18, 2014

Imagine if … the energy from footsteps could be harvested and converted into electricity.

Think about all of the people racing up and down the stairs of a busy train station, the children running around in a school gym, and the folks dancing at a zumba class.  Think about capturing all of that energy.  Pavegen, a company based in London, uses recycled materials to manufacture tiles that can convert the kinetic energy of footprints into electricity.  Earlier this year, Pavagen installed 8 of their tiles at the Riverdale Country School, a private school in NY.  The tiles power a smartphone charging center at the school. 

Why stop with footsteps?  If an emergency radio can be powered by a crank, wouldn’t it be nice if revolving doors could power the lights?  How about harvesting all of the kinetic energy in a playground – swings, slides, ladders? 

(This post was shared on Reduce Footprints Meet & Greet LinkUp)


  1. I think this is so cool and I am thrilled that you posted this on your blog Lisa. I am truly loving your imaginings. I find them inspiring and most importantly, filled with hope!

    Thank you!

  2. Thanks so much Sherie! I love hearing that you find my blogs inspiring and hopeful!

  3. I also like this idea a lot. It is similar to hybrid cars that capture kinetic energy during braking. Your idea of a revolving door is great. I think they already make hybrid elevators.

    I also like your idea of applying this concept to a slide. Having these tiles be the stepping off mat, at the bottom of a slide where kids (and adults!) finish with a jump would be great. However, you would not want to try to capture the energy as the slider was sliding, as it would decrease their speed and enjoyment.

    Similarly, swings might not be quite the right application. If one captures the kinetic energy as the swing goes from the top of its arc to its nominal resting point, one would loose the fun of turning that kinetic energy back into potential energy as the swing goes back up. Of course at the end, when one wants to slow down and get off there is kinetic energy to recover. However, it might not be worth the difficulty of trying to figure out how to just collect the energy when the person wants to slow down. When I was young, I use to like ending my swing rides with hefty jump off the swing at full speed. Perhaps the answer is to encourage everyone who wants to get off the swing to jump off onto a landing pad created with of the energy collecting tiles!

    Keep blogging! I love it!

    1. Thanks for your excellent points! I agree that capturing the kinetic energy of sliding or swinging does not make sense, because swings and slides are only fun when as much energy as possible helps the rider go fast. We wouldn’t want to ruin the fun by collecting more energy since that would make someone slow down. I wonder if the floor tiles that capture the energy of footprints would slow down walkers. If so, it definitely would be good to use them in school hallways! I also wonder if hybrid technology will eventually be incorporated into bicycle brakes, stroller brakes, and amusement park rides that slow down at the end.

      I really like your idea of landing pads at the bottom of swings and slides to capture some energy. Looking forward to more of your comments on this blog in the future!

  4. I love this idea!! It is an exciting time ... so many creative ideas which will benefit us all, including the earth! :-)

  5. Yes, this was a fun one! I really hope some of these ideas start showing up in communities all over. Makes me hopeful.


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