Nikola Tesla once said, “Ere many generations pass, our machinery will be driven by a power obtainable at any point of the universe.” The current generation of engineers have taken great strides in making Tesla’s prediction become a reality. Kinetic Energy is being used in the design of amazing new innovations such as harnessing kinetic energy to power buildings and roads designed to provide electrical energy from the kinetic energy of moving vehicles.
One company (Pavegen) has engineered a technology that provides electrical power from the footsteps of people who walk across specialty designed flooring that converts kinetic energy into electrical power via a flywheel. This amazing technology can be used outside or inside. This is a great addition to any are that receives a high amount of foot traffic such as Airports, Malls, and Schools. Pavegen already has this technology being utilized in a few different places. Most notably is a soccer stadium in Brazil. When players and fans walk across the specialty designed flooring, the kinetic energy is converted into electrical energy which is used to power the lights of the soccer stadium. This technology is also being used in London’s Canary Wharf. All foot traffic around the wharf creates kinetic energy that is also converted into electrical energy to power the surrounding street lights.
Pavegen is going beyond just energy by also incorporating data transmitters into its products to track footsteps to help create “smart cities”. The Pavagen system allows the ability to be able to predict peak timing, prime locations, and movement patterns. They even went a step further (no pun intended) and incorporated a “Loyalty Program” in which people walking can use an app and earn digital currency for every step walked on their technology. This money can be used in a variety of ways to reward loyalty or be donated to charity.
Italian startup “Underground Power” is also getting in on the kinetic energy movement by taking this technology to the streets. Underground Power in partnership with the Polytechnic University of Milan, has developed a technology called Lybra which is a rubber paving that collects kinetic energy from moving vehicles and converts it into electrical energy. The way that Lybra works is that it takes the kinetic energy that is created by the force of a breaking vehicle and converts it into electrical energy that is sent to the electrical grid. Lybra is installed in places that have been strategically selected as spots that most drivers must reduce their speed. This makes sure that Lybra gathers the most kinetic energy possible. The technology also can help make the roadways safer because each of these strategically selected spots that gather electricity are marked so drivers will have an extra reminder to slow down. This makes Lybra a vital safety innovation as well as a creative way to produce electricity in an eco-friendly manner. This technology has serious potential in alternative power sourcing and makes vehicles give back instead of the normal complaints of vehicle pollution.
Both brilliant kinetic energy innovations provide multiple benefits for their respective uses. Kinetic energy is something that is going to be created regardless of whether it is being harnessed or not, so it would really be a waste to not utilize this energy to create a green form of electricity whenever possible.
While it may not be the exact idea that Nikola Tesla had when he made the previously mentioned quote, this technology really does have the potential to be used anywhere that kinetic energy can be gathered. This is not only great for the environment but also has cost saving benefits as well.