A British company, Pavegen Systems, has created cobblestones that produce energy through the movement when someone walks on it.
A technique of electricity production that has proven itself and is becoming more widespread around the world. Metro, sidewalks, corridors, … How many steps do you take per day? Probably hundreds or even thousands for some.And if these steps could turn into a source of energy? The idea seems amazing and yet it is indeed the concept developed for several years by a British company Pavegen Systems.
Since 2009, the company has been working to give cobblestones new utility, transforming them into real energy producers. It has created a revolutionary slab called Pavegen that is able to produce electricity whenever a person walks on it. Renewable Technology Made of rubber, the slabs are made from recycled truck tires and rely on the piezoelectric nature of certain materials to produce electricity.
The principle is known since the 19th century but the company has drawn an innovative application and today patented. A piezoelectric material is polarized when subjected to mechanical stress, i.e., positive and negative charges occur at the edges of the material which can create a current when for example crushed. The company explains how to use the effects of electro-magnetic induction while keeping the details for it. Each step made on the slabs causes a deformation of a few millimeters and triggers this effect, which allows to create a real renewable energy.
According to the company, each slab can produce between 4 and 7 watts (W) continuously, if of course they are stomped without stopping and according to the weight of the individual. Once produced, the electricity can be used directly on site or stored in batteries for later use.
According to the EDF Pulse website, between 5 and 15 slabs would be sufficient to power a lamp post all night, depending on the type of lighting and the attendance of the area in question. Already more than 100 locations The interest of the Pavegen system is twofold: it can save electricity from the grid using renewable energy but it could also bring electricity to areas that do not have it or not always.
Since 2009, the company has already installed its invention in several locations around the world. It was initially a nightclub that was used as an experimental ground. Now, several stadiums are lit in part thanks to these slabs, for example a stadium in Rio de Janeiro where the energy due to piezoelectricity completes that provided by the solar panels. In the UK, schools including Simon Langton School have set up educational halls of some twenty slabs.
In France, the Saint-Omer SNCF railway station in the North has also adopted the technology, resulting in promising results. If this innovative energy system has something to seduce, is still an obstacle: its relatively high cost, nearly 400 euros per slab whose life is around five years. Nevertheless, the cost continues to fall thanks to the improvements made by the company. Pavegen Systems has just unveiled a third triangular model whose design, industrialization but also the yield that has increased by 200 since the first prototype released in 2009, have reduced