Kinetic as an inexhaustible power source
The kinetic energy is based on the motion and mechanics. It is a perspective inexhaustible source of energy once in becomes more efficient. Countries use kinetic power in tidal and hydroelectric stations and wind farms today. Do we take the full potential of the motion? The human power can be collected from the footsteps and the cycle ride. It is an era to start harvesting power from urban motion.
When speaking about water-based power and wind energy collection, it is all about the location. It is essential to remember that human is the one to be in constant motion. Future of kinetic energy harvesting is promising to be up to the most used ones. And it might not be large power plants but personalized and local power harvesting.
There are innovative wearables which harvest the energy from the footsteps to charge smartphone - personalized solution. Sensors are embedded in shoes gathering motion kinetic energy. It might be an indispensable solution for hiking trips or an additional motivation to run extra kilometer on your morning/evening jog.
Furthermore, the kinetic energy can be used to power the bicycles. Copenhagen is famous for being the most cycling world city. Therefore it comes as no surprise that Copenhagen city cooperated with MIT to create the bicycle which would be powered by motion. Copenhagen Wheel is a smart electric hybrid bicycle. Besides being an environmentally-friendly transportation vehicle, this bike helps a rider in the long distance ride, actively measures the ride, and augments pedal power when needed. Technology allows to effortlessly go up the hill in the same manner as riding the flat road. Copenhagen Wheel captures energy from braking or going downhill, recharging the battery. Moreover, it has an app to provide with data and insights about the trip. Such improvement of cycling experience will engage more citizens in adopting everyday cycling.
Energy is not an object human can touch or see. Therefore it is hard to imagine how much of it is spent, and even harder to understand how much of it can human produce. New technologies address harvesting the energy in the crowded spaces and providing with valuable insights through data.
For example, innovative pavement tiles like Pavegen gather the kinetic power from the people walking on it. Pavegen is triangular tiles, which, when embedded in the pavement, generates energy from the footsteps. Due to its design, it can be seamlessly integrated into any location transforming regular road into effective decentralized power solution. One tile produces as much as 5 Watts of continuous power from footsteps. Its voltage ranges from 12V to 48V.
Since 2014, Pavegen has laid tiles in more than 100 locations, including Harrods and Heathrow Airport in the UK. One of the examples of Pavegen implementation is a football field in Rio de Janeiro. 200 kinetic tiles, covered by soil and grass, capture energy generated by the players' activity. The technology lightens up all six LED floodlights on the field.
Megacities can largely benefit from the kinetic tiles like Pavegen from lightening the streets till providing power to business and shopping centers. Pavegen creators underline the possibilities of engaging with customers making steps as discounts and promotion object.
Kinetic energy source is concealed in all moving objects. It has the largest variety of forms, such as radiant, sound, thermal, mechanical, vibrational, and rotational. The thermal one is one of the most used harvesting forms at the moment.
The hydroelectric and tidal stations have a potential in all the water locations. China is the leader in the hydroelectric power collection by both number of stations and collected energy capacity. At the moment there are more than 60 hydroelectric stations with capacity more than 2000 kWt, and another 20 proposed. The tidal stations are relatively new. Brazil is adopting the technology constantly innovating and investing its shores with wave energy devices.
Photograph on the main page is courtesy of Mike Dempsey.
Growing urbanization needs alternative energy sources which will not take an extra space in the shrinking residential environment. Adopting the kinetic solutions has a potential to solve the problem and transform the city motion in the inexhaustible power source.