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9 May, 2016 - 10:59 By Kate Sweeney

Cambridge drives new power play at The White House

pavegen, cambridge, the white house

New energy harvesting technology from Cambridge will soon be generating power from the footfall of visitors to The White House.

Pavegen, which is based at the Future Business Centre in the UK hi-tech heartland, is preparing to launch its Mark4 tiles which generate electricity from every step, not just those that hit hot spots contained in the current system.

Founder Laurence Kemball-Cook confirmed to Wired: “The first site will be outside the White House in Washington.” As the White House receives an average of 6,000 visitors every single day, the energy harvested from the footfall promises to be significant.

Pavegen was born when, as Kemball-Cook explained to Business Weekly’s inaugural Nerve conference: “I found a way to use energy from a footstep to rotate a flywheel. The more people walk on it, the more it spins.”

Each of the current 5cm-thick tiles produces up to 7W of power per footstep; if they aren't being stepped on, the output is supplemented by solar panels.

The tiles, which activate when people land on the hotspot in the centre, also collect footfall data. “We're using our tiles to give retailers a granular insight into how people are moving,” says Kemball-Cook.

Obviously the Mark4 tiles that generate power from every step, will substantially increase output. The existing technology is used in Brazil at the Morro da Mineira favela in Rio de Janeiro where player power ensures the pitch stays lit. Six LED floodlights surrounding the field are powered by 200 kinetic tiles buried under the AstroTurf, which capture the energy generated by players' activity.

Since laying the pitch in 2014, Pavegen has laid tiles in more than 100 locations, including Harrods and Heathrow Airport in the UK.
 

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