Electricity From Recycled Rubber: The Power of “Pavegen”

Posted: January 29, 2012 in Building Technology
Tags: , ,

Think about the number of steps you take in a single day.  I wouldn’t even want to start counting mine and I mostly walk from my car to work and back.  What if we could harness the power of those steps into an energy source?  That is exactly the question Laurence Kembell-Cook sought to answer when he developed his “Pavegen” tile.

The top of this tile is made from 100% recycled rubber from old tires, and the base is made of 80% recycled materials.  The tiles are durable enough to be used in an outdoor environment, and are even waterproof.  When walked upon, the tile flexes and captures the kinetic energy from the step and stores the energy in a lithium polymer battery or is converted into 2.1 watt-hours of electricity.  If installed in a heavily trafficked area, the tiles will convert enough kinetic energy to power area lighting, signage, or alarms.

(Source)

When walked upon, a luminaire in the center of the tile lights up to engage the user in the electricity generation process.  In one case study, the tiles were even used as a portable dance floor and the luminaries were used in the lighting of the dance floor.

(Source)

The tiles have been installed in test projects for the last two years around the UK.  This year, “Pavegen” has gotten its first commercial contract from the Westfield Stratford City Shopping Centre.  The Centre plans to install a grid of “Pavegens” in a main outdoor crossing between the mall and the London Main Stadium for the 2012 Olympics.  Based on the performance of the walkway, the Centre will work up to using the “Pavegens” to power the entire mall lighting system.

(Source)

Lawrence Kembell-Cook has won many honors including being voted the “Best New Innovation” at last year’s Innovation Future Zone at Ecobuild and the “Big Idea” category of the UK’s Observer Ethical Awards this year, among others.  With new investors and first commercial contract, maybe soon “Pavegen” will even start to be used in application in the United States.

For even more information on this new technology, you can visit the “Pavegen” website:

www.pavegen.com

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Comments
  1. Alyssa Adams says:

    Interesting post and great use of a new technology. In what applications would you see “Pavegen” be most useful in your community?

    • Kim says:

      Assuming the tiles work in the London Mall as well as they have in the tests, they should be able to start power all the lighting in the mall, at least the main area lighting. However, I think the best use of this technology would be in hard to power places. Areas like bus stops in traveled walkways, or, if the tiles become even more efficient, possibly powering rest stops where the user powers the necessary areas of the stop as they walk through them.

  2. DJ Jenkins says:

    How Does it work? I know that a material flexes and “captures” the kinetic energy. but last time i checked Recycled rubber doesn’t Produce a charge when stepped on.

    • Kim says:

      DJ, the recycled rubber is just the top wearing surface of the Pavegen tile, the part that flexes. It does not actually capture or convert the kinetic energy to usable electric energy. There is a housing below the rubber tile that stores the technology that converts the flexing of the rubber tile into electricity. This is proprietary technology though, so there is not complete information available about what that technology is. You can try contacting the makers of the tile through their website if you are looking for more information | http://www.pavegen.com. I’m sorry I could not give you more details about this product.

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