Friday, December 2, 2016

Power Walking

About a mile from the White House in northwest D.C., a small set of kinetic paving "stones" is harvesting the power of footfall and giving a whole new meaning to the term "power walking."

These triangular-shaped pavers are made of glass-reinforced plastic that are loose at the corners. A footstep jiggles them just enough to depress the corners and move a flywheel that generates the power to illuminate LED lights on park benches nearby.

This is amazing to me, that the footstep, one of the greatest sources of untapped energy the planet has ever known, could be transferred into power. It seems like an idea whose time has come.

Imagine the applications: treadmills and ellipticals on the grid, a home powered by people running up and down the stairs inside it, sidewalks that move you — because you move them.

There is the slight issue of cost — these little pavers are expensive — but their founder says so were Teslas, too, in the beginning. (I thought Teslas were still expensive, but hey, I'll give the guy a break.) Still, the company, Pavegen, has similar projects in London's Heathrow Airport and elsewhere around the world.

So, walkers everywhere, vote with your feet. Make your way to these springy, resilient paving stones, give us your best fast walk and light up the world!


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