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Stepping up to a bright idea

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By Kirsten Peters

At first I wasn’t sure I was reading the CNN report correctly. The story hinged on special pavement that uses the impact of human feet to generate electricity.
That’s right. A young man in Britain has invented a device that harvests the energy from a footfall hitting the pavement to power things like LED lights.
Talk about a bright idea. The “PaveGen” project is the brainchild of Laurence Kemball-Cook, 25. He’s an engineer who built a prototype of the device during his last year in school and is now working to make and market his creation.
The PaveGen tiles work because they have a bit of “give” in them. When you step on one, it’s depressed a little bit by your body weight.  That motion can be used to generate a small but measurable bit of electricity.
If the paving tiles are in an area of heavy foot traffic – like the stairs down to a subway station – in total they can make enough electricity for some useful applications.
Using human muscle to generate electricity is not completely new.
I’ve seen students in teaching demonstrations pedaling hard on stationary bikes to light up a relatively low-watt light.


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