A world where you power streetlights, advertising billboards or the lighting at a concert or club by walking, driving or dancing is no longer science-fiction. And it is now another step closer to reaching your local high-street thanks to a unique deal struck between the University of Bolton and US based, clean-technology company, POWERleap.
POWERleap has developed a 'smart-floor' that can generate energy by someone walking, running or dancing on it. The key technology is piezoelectricity, a naturally occurring phenomena where a voltage is generated when the material is under mechanical stress. POWERleap uses piezoelectricity to harness the energy released in kinetic movements - such as walking and dancing - to power devices like LED lights or wireless electronics. This product could be used to illuminate displays and way-finding lighting in retail chains, train stations, airplanes, hotels, cinemas, clubs and more.
The University of Bolton's Institute of Materials Research and Innovation is world-renowned in the field of smart materials. Professor Elias Siores is a pioneer of piezoelectric research and he recently developed a hybrid piezoelectric-photovoltaic fibre that can generate energy from wind, rain, feet, and the sun. He said: "In the current climate, clean and renewable energy is vital. Not just from a commercial perspective but, more importantly, for its practical applications. The potential and purposes for piezoelectricity is growing all the time and POWERleap's ideas are extremely innovative. I'm looking forward to working with them on their current products and helping develop future ones."
Elizabeth Redmond, President and Director of Product Development at POWERleap, said: "What makes this such a good opportunity for both parties is Bolton has the expertise, machinery, and creativity to prototype commercially viable piezoelectric devices."
The prototyping process can be long and time-consuming, meaning delays in development and production. She added: "Prototyping in the past has required multiple expert parties around the globe, creating a slow and complex process. This collaboration allows us to work directly with Bolton to prototype for our customers and SmartFlooring development projects. It's rare to find collaborators in the institutional setting who are commercially minded - Elias and the University have both shown this strength. POWERleap investors and customers are just as excited about this collaboration as myself."
POWERleap already has pilot projects in the America, the UK and Saudi Arabia and last year displayed their products at the World Future Energy Summit in Abu Dhabi. Frost and Sullivan, one of the world's leading market research companies, recently ranked clean-energy harvesting and energy efficient lighting technologies in the top 50 future industries to be involved in.
Source and top image: University of Bolton
Top image shows Pro Vice Chancellor, Professor Rob Campbell with President and Director of Product Development, Elizabeth Redmond