There have been many studies looking into harnessing the energy of pedestrians walking through busy public spaces. The conclusions are all similar: it is possible to harvest some of this energy, but the efficiency is quite low. Unfortunately, it seems piezoelectric tiles won't be powering our lights in the near future.
On the other hand, piezoelectric tiles can work fantastically well as self-powered sensors, tracking the movement of people through these public spaces. For those interested in getting a better picture of foot traffic and movement patterns, piezoelectric tiles could be quite useful!
The following links lead to some interesting papers related to the topic. If you've been considering a similar project, these may help guide you in the right direction:
- Feasibility Study for Using Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting Floor in Buildings’ Interior Spaces
- Floor Tile Energy Harvester for Self-Powered Wireless Occupancy Sensing
- A review of walking energy harvesting using piezoelectric materials
- Harvesting Electrical Energy via Vibration Energy and its Applications
If you're not ready to dive into journal articles, these news stories provide a good layman's look at real world application of piezoelectric tiles. Back in 2008, a power generating floor was installed in a Japanese train station. More than 400,000 people walk through the station daily, yet the tiles may only provide enough electricity to power some of the LED lighting.
- Power generating floor in train stations light up holiday displays
- Japan harnesses energy from footsteps
I hope you find these resources useful and that they give you a better understanding of piezoelectric tiles and energy harvesting. For more information on piezoelectricity, you might want to check out our blog What is a Piezo? or download our PDF Introduction to Piezoelectric Transducers. And don't forget to subscribe to our blog for more educational content!
Eric is an applications engineer for piezoelectrics at Mide. He works with customers to refine their application ideas, then figures out how to turn...