Patent of the month August
Energy from footsteps
In August, the hiking month, we turn our attention to the potential of walking. It is our natural way of moving forward and good for body and soul. Wouldn’t it be handsome, to use this kind of movement for energy production? The British company Pavegen has put this idea into practice ingeniously. It has developed floor panels that generate energy when you step on them. In 2020, a European patent EP3350440B1 was granted on it, simply titled "Flooring System" - our Patent of the Month August!
The floor system described in the patent document consists of a special support structure for movably arranged floor tiles that give way by about five millimetres with each step. Each of the therein installed tiles contain an electromagnetic coil that begins to rotate under pressure. By stepping on a tile, the mechanical deflection of the system turns the kinetic step energy into electrical energy. This generates about five watts electricity with each step, which can be used to light up a LED lamp can shine for about 30 seconds. So it takes many steps to harvest sufficient power, which is why the Pavegen panels are particularly suitable for public places with a lot of foot traffic. Initially company founder Laurence Kemball Cook had areas with weak or no power supply in mind. Therefore, the first projects were realized on football fields in slums in Brazil or Nigeria.
At present the Pavegen tiles are permanently installed on a couple of stations in the UK, at London-Heathrow airport, in a grammar school in Kent and at the famous Harrods department stores'. Further installations are planned in front of the White House in Washington and on the busy shopping boulevard Oxford Street in London.
The first prototype of Pavegen consisted of rectangular tiles that only generated electricity when stepped on directly in the middle. One hundred and twenty-nine trials later the British engineers present a significantly improved product. The tiles of the third generation consist of triangular modules, that can be put together to form any surface and laid out on almost any substrate. Each single module is equipped with three generators, so that every step is a hit. To go with it, the company has developed a particularly efficient LED technology with an efficiency of 90 %.
However, technology has not only become more efficient, but also more versatile. "Smart" floors with integrated sensors can record and analyse movement data. The collection of data is supposed to attract investors and open further markets, e.g. to analyse customer flows in shops or to support city planning. With these enhancements the company, that now employs 40 staff members and has realized more than 200 projects worldwide, is now aiming to become commercially successful. Right now, the band Coldplay is using a kinetic floor designed by Pavegen on their eco-friendly tour 2022 to get their dancing fans to generate electricity. More exciting projects are to come!
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