Made from recycled lorry tyres and recycled aluminium, the tiles flex 5mm when stepped on, which creates the electricity. The company behind the tiles – Pavegen Systems – is elusive about the precise technology it employs, but according to an interview last year with The Engineer, the Pavegen team has invented a hybrid solution which takes advantage of the ability of certain materials to transform mechanical strain into an electric charge.
Forecast to generate a total of 21 kilowatt hours of electricity over the course of the Olympic Games, the tiles are unlikely to make a significant dent in the event’s overall energy use. However, as the company’s video highlights below, the installation could signal the mainstream uptake of a new renewable energy source.
Convicted criminals are not generally known for ‘giving something back to the community’, but an innovative new programme at a Brazilian prison is set to change that, for the benefit of prisoners and the environment.
On the suggestion of a local judge, Brazil’s Santa Rita do Sapucaí prison has installed electricity-generating stationary bikes, allowing them to keep active while producing energy to power city streetlights, thereby enriching the community for everyone.
Their incentive? For every 16 hours spent pedalling, prisoners can shave a day off their sentences.
The initiative isn’t mandatory, but has proven so popular that the prison is adding eight new bikes. The total 10 bikes will produce enough energy to illuminate an entire avenue in the city centre.
Battery technology is seeing some exciting developments at the moment; liquid solar cells and current-generating paint are both examples of inventions set to revolutionise the clunky AA mainstay. And now scientists have added something new to the mix: spray-on batteries.
Developed by researchers at Rice University, this new technology allows any surface to become a battery, which could have pretty big implications for traditional energy storage and solar power generation. More on the science of the creation here.
Lead author of the team’s report Neelam Singh said: “Spray painting is already an industrial process, so it will be very easy to incorporate this into industry. We really do consider this a paradigm changer.”
However, there are some drawbacks, namely the spray-paint’s sensitivity to moisture and oxygen given its toxic, flammable and corrosive properties. Eliminating these issues through further research could see the paint being used at a large scale in industrial environments.
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