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The Pavegen: Harvesting the Power of Footsteps

by Lucy Siegle

"I just knew this idea had legs," says Laurence Kemball-Cook, ignoring the puns that come with the invention of an "energy-harvesting paving system" and explaining his confident leap, at just 24, from Loughborough University graduate and industrial design engineer to one of the most feted young innovators in the United Kingdom.

Kemball-Cook's Pavegen system is about to shift our perceptions of renewable energy. When you or I step on one of these paving stones, 5% of the energy we create is used to light up its central LED light, and the rest is stored in a battery (for up to three days) and can be used for any low-power application. So as the public walk, their footsteps are harvested, and they don't necessarily even realize it's happening. Call it stealth energy.

Urban planners and architects can't get enough of the clever design (the paving stones can easily be retrofitted into pavements), and at trade shows well-shod design professionals can be seen queuing up for their turn to bound across the Pavegen surface (they are made from 100% recycled car tires) and watch each one light up.

Currently, the invention is in the final rounds of testing, not least because these paving stones will need to withstand up to eight million footsteps in their lifetime. After installing them in shopping centers and schools in the UK, Kemball-Cook dreams of going global. "I can imagine Pavegen in more remote areas of India, for instance," he says. "There's huge footfall there, but where there is power it's polluting, fossil-fuel energy. This could be transformative."

This post originally appeared on The Guardian.

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this is a great idea, why do we not have paving systems that generate energy already??? there is a huge amount of potential for them and we just need to encourage innovation like this@!

imagine on a busy morning all the lighting being charged up from footsteps! GO pavegen and good luck Laurence Kemball-Cook!

Posted by: gary Rodes on 23 May 10

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