Everyday Behaviors Can Produce Clean Energy

According to a story at Fast Company, all vibrations are good vibrations in the world of energy harvesting.

Whether it’s a road under heavy traffic or commuters pounding the sidewalk pavement, micromovements on any surface can be converted into clean energy by power-scavenging devices fitted with piezoelectric (PE) crystals.

These pressure-sensitive materials — normally made of ceramics — give off a small charge when “squeezed, squashed, bent, or slapped,” explains Markys Cain, a materials scientist at the British National Physical Laboratory.

There’s nothing pedestrian about Pavegen Systems’ walkway slabs, which generate a steady 2.1 watt hours when positioned in heavy footfall zones. This summer, clusters of energy-absorbing pads will be installed at a major London transport hub to power lighting and signs.

Railway tracks absorb huge amounts of kinetic energy from passing locomotives. Innowattech taps that train strain with customized concrete sleepers loaded with PE generators. The firm is currently testing the kit with Israel Railways and estimates the passage of 300 cars an hour over 1 kilometer of track will provide enough juice for 150 households.

High-energy fan celebrations in the bleachers could soon be charging LED displays and other devices around ballparks. Powerleap, based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, aims to start testing PE floor tiles (a square foot will cost between $50 and $100) in stadiums around the world next year.

Photo by Fast Company.

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