© Shell

When footsteps produce electricity

A tile with a rubber surface made from old tires - a British startup is revolutionizing our footsteps. It harvests the energy transmitted to the ground as your foot hits it.

The Gensler firm of architects wants to turn the old London metro lines into a space for pedestrians and bicycles - and illuminate them using these tiles!

From a London dance floor to the White House is only a short step. Or rather several steps. In 2009, the British start-up Pavegen Systems had the bright idea of covering the floor of a London nightclub with its tiles. But they hide a real innovation: they convert the kinetic energy produced by the clubbers which then powers a screen and a mirror ball. Twelve of these tiles were subsequently laid on the bridge connecting the West Ham metro station to the Olympic Park during the 2012 London Olympics. With an estimated 12 million footfalls, no less than 72 million joules were produced. Although the energy provides lighting at night using the energy stored in batteries during the day, the total power could have charged 10,000 mobile phones or powered a small electric car to go around an Olympic Stadium 400 times!

Recycled tire surface

It’s a simple principle - the same as a bike dynamo. Using the electromagnetic effect, each tile produces six joules of energy per footfall. So we need a few thousand pedestrians to make this green solution efficient. Which is why it can be found in places with heavy traffic. Like the front of Saint-Omer station in the Pas-de-Calais region in France, where fourteen tiles that 5,000 pedestrians cross every day power the LEDs as they go past, and powers USB ports for charging smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices. To make this innovation, which could make cities more self-sufficient in terms of energy, even more environmentally friendly the tiles are made with 80% recycled materials (including concrete), and are covered with old tires remolded into a new rubber surface. Now based in Los Angeles, the small company behind this green technology has its own walk of fame... It hopes to install its tiles right in front of the White House. The English start-up, stamped with the slogan “You are the power”, intends turning even Barack Obama himself into an energy producer!

Main picture: © Shell

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