Oct. 7 - An English high school is harnessing the energy from its pupils' footsteps to power lights, cellphones, and a radio. They're using a technology called the Pavegen system, which uses floor-tiles made from recycled material to convert foot pressure into kinetic energy. Jim Drury reports.
As they walk through the corridor these English schoolchildren are providing a valuable extracurriculur function - they're helping power the school. Energy harvesting company Pavegen fitted 24 kinetic tiles along a 12 metre stretch of hallway at Simon Langton Grammar School in Canterbury. Each footstep produces four watts of power, enough to keep the overhead lights on, says Pavegen inventor Laurence Kemball-Cook. SOUNDBITE (English) LAURENCE KEMBALL-COOK, CEO AND INVENTOR OF PAVEGEN TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "What it does is it really efficiently takes the weight of your footstep, that downwards movement - just five millimetres....we're actually using a hybrid internal generator technology. We'll get a constant flow of power as people walk on it - and that's for twelve volts - and it can be stored really easily and is a really robust solution." The tiles are manufactured from recycled tyres and polymer concrete. Energy created by the 1,000 pupils and staff walking on them can also be used to charge a cellphone - although this requires effort. One tile can also power a radio, which Head of Design Brian Hurlow says has his pupils leaping for joy. SOUNDBITE (English) BRIAN HURLOW, HEAD OF DESIGN AT SIMON LANGTON GRAMMAR SCHOOL FOR BOYS, SAYING: "There's a radio plumbed into it, which the kids love tuning that and jumping up and down on it. They can actually charge their ipads, iphones, ipods, if they continue to leap up and down. We've got some connectors to that, but one of the key things is that it is actually recording the data of the energy produced hour by hour by the students, so they can see the peaks, the troughs, changes iin usage and the general amount on the day, which we can pick up on a wifi system." Pavegen's tiles can store power within batteries for later use, and Kemball-Cook sees them as a potential centrepiece of future smart cities. SOUNDBITE (English) LAURENCE KEMBALL-COOK, CEO AND INVENTOR OF PAVEGEN TECHNOLOGY, SAYING: "The pavement will talk to the building, will talk to the bridge. Now with this we'll know accurately how many people are moving, so controlling lighting in urban areas, having footfall modelling so you'll know when the cleaners need to clean up the city, and even in retail there's some really exciting applications of using this data." The school has incorporated the tiles into its curriculum, with pupils able to monitor wireless data of energy levels, peaking at 100 watts. With the development of alternative energy a growing concern world-wide, the school says it's determined to put its best foot forward.