A person walks about 2000 steps, daily. There are 7.4 Billion people in the world. So, 14.8 Trillion footsteps each day. Let’s spice up stuff. Bring in Piezoelectricity, below each foot(7 W of power from each step). Doing this you can generate a mammoth–103,600,000,000,000 W of power. This is enough to power the whole planet for a year!


What is Piezoelectricity?

Electricity generation by the conversion of mechanical behaviors like vibrations, thumps, taps and jerks. Vibrations are all around. This is why researchers look forward to this as the potential for the future scopes of energy generation. Alternative energy will become increasingly important as fossil fuel supplies inevitably will run out.

Works like this!
Tiles with Piezo tech sensors.

Many major cities around the world are using these assemblies for street lights, footpaths, malls and public parks. Piezoelectric devices, used for producing the vibrational energy of roads and walkways due to traffic, can produce electrical energy that is predictable, depends upon the traffic. This energy generated can then be stored locally near these devices.

Road with Piezo tech sensors.
Piezo pixelated road

These devices generate energy by means of a piezoelectric crystal. The crystal, placed about 5 centimeters below the surface of the asphalt, slightly deforms when vehicles or people travel across the road, thereby producing electric current. East Japan Railway Company (under pedestrian subway station gates) and Innowattech (under roads in Israel) are already generating electricity by this. These devices, if planted along a one-kilometer stretch of road, could provide an average of 400 kW of power, enough to power 162 US homes. I used the US as an example, because the US is the biggest consumer of Energy on the planet. 34% to be precise!

Piezoelectricity: Turnstile gates, floor is sensored up.

These data suggest that piezoelectric energy harvesting is a competitive, clean alternative energy source.

Not only roads or footpaths; our sleepers can adopt too.

Think about it, you’ll never run out phone’s battery. You’ve got smarts to charge it up. In your shoes!

In major metro cities where traffic and population is huge, the footpaths and pavements take up a lot of space, so we might as well bring piezo tech in the house. Previously we’ve seen ground coverings that light up, absorb solar energy and generate electricity from the footsteps of pedestrians. Now NASA is combining a little of all of those in a high-tech new path to greet visitors to the Kennedy Space Center.

Kennedy Space Center.

The US$ 2 million installation is made up of about 1,000 tiles spread across 40,000 square feet (3,700 sq m). These tiles form mosaic images of Earth, Mars, the Moon and the International Space Station, but it’s what’s inside that counts. The view is bewitching!

Deconstruct: Below the tile.

Each tile contains circuit boards, six small solar panels, a battery, LEDs, a Bluetooth and a Wi-Fi transmitter, micro-controllers and a piezoelectric element. Each tile contains these circuit boards, solar panels, modules and batteries.

Tiles communicate with each other to form the images.

Along with lighting up, the tiles can also send a wireless signal to the phones of passersby to deliver nuggets of wisdom on NASA’s space missions, the mechanics of piezoelectric technology, and random facts.

Ilan Stern, Georgia Tech research scientist, maker of this assembly.

The solar arrays are constantly absorbing energy from the Sun as well, and it’s all stored in a rechargeable lithium battery for nighttime use. Installations like these could be used to power local devices like street lights, guide visitors to points of interest, or collect real-time information about traffic and road surface conditions.

Tech at Work:

Piezoelectricity applications
Tokyo footpaths.
Fitness and healthcare centres use these piezoelectric weighing pads. They don’t need a battery.
Dance floors are being fixed with Piezotech. You dance, you light up the show!
And, I find this very awesome. What if your taps and swipes charged your phone?
piezoelectric harvesting technology
Pavegen soccer field using piezoelectric harvesting technology
piezoelectric harvesting technology
An English company harnessed energy from spectators arriving at the Olympic park during London 2012

As much as possible, we should convert wasted mechanical energy—human and vehicle movement — into usable energy generation and storage.

Dark is not our colour, let’s light up! Let’s walk!