Pavegen Footstep Energy Harvesting – Pre-Bust

Some comments on the Pavegen pavement footstep energy harvesting system extracted from my live show, because many people have asked for it.

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  1. Going by the demo video, the vertical travel of these tiles would be like walking on a firm bed mattress. The other thing is the gap between the tiles being a path for dirt, food and spilled drinks to collect underneath. If these tiles are used anywhere, it would have to be indoors only with no food or drinks allowed. Even then they would have to have empty buckets around for the people who get sea sick just walking on these tiles. It would be entertaining to watch people seeing the first person puke and set off a chain reaction in the room.

  2. Dave, I think “embodied energy” is the term you want. In case you didn’t already know that. It’s mostly engineering and construction that use it, either as “the energy to make a kilo of aluminium” or “energy for a tonne of concrete”. But there’s also in this case “energy payback period”, which would also kill the pavegen thing stone dead. Good PV panels are about 3 years in most of Australia, bad ones never… guess where PaveGen sits.

  3. Think the other point is that the energy extracted has to come from somewhere, and it can can only come from making it harder to walk across this surface than on normal pavement. That being the case, people will avoid these surfaces. Either they will go around, or if that is not possible, they will shop elsewhere. Which will cause a loss of sales for any shops on such streets.

    Not that this alters the fact that the amount of energy collected would be too small to be worthwhile anyway.

    • Yes – “it has to come from somewhere”.
      In order to generate as little as 1 Watt hour (= 3600 Joule) … taking an average efficiency of the human body of 20% into account … you need at least 18 kJ of energy from food. In order to generate 1 kWh (worth $0.10 when sold to the grid) we end up with 18 MJ of food (worth > $1.00) – 14.4 MJ of it lost warming the athmosphere.

      Using muscle power to generate electric energy has never been sustainable.

  4. How do they install these things?
    It looks 3-4″ deep, so you dig out the existing sidewalks, then put them in. The base has to be solid, or the energy will be lost. Put concrete under them, like a sidewalk for the energy sidewalk.
    Makes no sense, but a nice demo and video.

  5. Österreichischer Flochlandla

    Even worse than the solar roadways.

    It should be clear that energy is not for free. If one steps on those panels and sinks in by e.g. 1cm he has to “climb” up that 1cm for the next step. It’s like walking upwards an I guess that after no more than 100m walking on such a sidewalk the additional workout of the tighs will become noticeable. In turn this means one has to eat more to compensate that effort.

    The only suitable version may be a generator in trekking shoes. With 1 step/sec and sinking by e.g. 5mm with a weight of 80kg this means a mechanical power of 1Hz*0,005m
    9,81m/s^2*80kg = 3,9W – enough to charge some mobile device.

    • Interesting. But let’s be honest: most people in cities eat too much and don’t exercise enough anyway. This is like going to the gym without actually going to the gym 🙂

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