Light fantastic: pedestrians to generate power
THE power of the wind and the tide have been harnessed – now the footfall of trudging shoppers is to become the latest source of emission-free energy.
Underfloor generators, powered by “heel strike” and designed by British engineers, may soon be installed in supermarkets and railway stations.
The technology could use the footsteps of pedestrians to power thousands of lightbulbs at shopping centres. It works by using the pressure of feet on the floor to compress pads underneath, driving fluid through mini-turbines that then generate electricity, which is stored in a battery.
Engineers who have modelled the effects of the technology at Victoria Underground station in central London have calculated that the 34,000 travellers passing through every hour could power 6,500 lightbulbs.
David Webb, a structural engineer at the consultant Scott Wilson, which is in discussions with Network Rail and with retail firms to install the devices, said: “It’s just picking up on the fact that all structures move a bit. This technology says, okay, we can do something useful with that energy.”
In addition to floors, the technology could also be installed beneath railway lines and on road bridges to exploit the energy of passing trains and vehicles.