Since launching their first Sustainable Dance Floor in 2008, Energy Floors’ colourful LED-lit floor tiles have been harnessing power from people’s dance moves. By converting kinetic energy into usable electricity, the Sustainable Dance Floor has helped raise awareness on alternative energy across the globe.
Now, with the introduction of their new Sustainable Energy Floor (SEF), Energy Floors aims to capture and convert foot power from busy pedestrian areas such as sports arenas, airports, railway stations, shopping malls, offices and apartment blocks.
We believe that consciousness about energy and the impact humans have on it, are the main conditions for the creation of a sustainable world. Energy Floors
The Sustainable Energy Floor is the world’s most efficient energy converting pedestrian floor system. Just by walking, people can generate the energy required to illuminate the space around them, or to power local systems such as street lights and signage systems.
The SEF will certainly get a thorough testing this month, as two key pilot projects have just been launched.
The first is at the Feyenoord football club’s ‘De Kuip’ stadium in Rotterdam. SEF tiles have been laid in the main entranceway and at the foot of tribune seating stands. The aim is to harness energy from football fans as they enter the stadium and support their team.
This will not be the first Energy Floor experience for some Feyenoord supporters, as Sustainable Dance Floors have been installed in the past for special events. However, the outcome of this new study could see the SEF become a permanent fixture at the stadium.
“We are going to test where the Feyenoord fans generate the most energy. The better the floor tiles function, the greater the chance they will be installed in the new stadium.” Michel Smit, CEO, Energy Floors
Meanwhile, across the globe in Moscow another Sustainable Energy Floor has been installed at the Russian Railways Research Institute (VNIIZHT). This marks the start of a five-year collaboration which aims to further develop the technology to a level suitable for large scale industrial applications.
The energy-generating pedestrian floor will be installed at the entrance of the Research Institute, and the floor modules will be connected to an Energy Floors Smart Grid, where the power generated will be combined with wind and solar energy. During this pilot phase, the technology will be tested under strict Russian conditions.
Applying the Energy Floors technology in platforms and railway stations with high footfall is the first logical step in this project.
The project will also explore whether the energy of vehicles, such as trains and cars, can be tapped in a similar way. For Energy Floors, it is a unique opportunity to develop the Sustainable Energy Floor with well-qualified teams of researchers.
VNIIZHT is an affiliated company of Russian Railways, and is the largest scientific and research centre for a network of 1,520km of railway systems, so this test study could represent a major step forward for pedestrian-powered flooring. If successful, Sustainable Energy Flooring could be installed in multiple locations across Russia.
“You do not need a shiny disco floor that lights up when you walk on it. The panels will be manufactured on a larger scale, more durable with a lower cost: something that can withstand the weather in Moscow when one hundred thousand people are walking over it. It looks different, but the technology inside is the same.” Michel Smit, CEO, Energy Floors
For both pilot projects, the LED-lit panels have been replaced with more conventional flooring materials. The top layer of the Sustainable Energy Floor can be made from a variety of durable materials, such as Corian, wood, bamboo or carpet. But under the bonnet, both flooring systems are driven by the same technology.
Originally developed in partnership with Delft and Eindhoven Universities of Technology, the SEF is essentially a dynamo system, transforming small vertical movements into a rotating movement that drives a generator. Over the years, Energy Floors has refined the technology to offer the highest energy output in the world (up to 30 Watt per tile).
All Energy Floors modules can be connected to the Energy Floors Smart Grid, a system that can be used to power energy consuming products. Other renewable sources, such as wind and solar, can be added to the grid to create a self-sustained energy system – like the test pilot SEF system in Moscow.
Energy Floors is also in the process of developing a hybrid energy floor module with Spanish start-up OTEM2000. The floor combines both human power and solar energy to generate electricity, and it can be installed on commercial streets, rooftops, squares, pavements, public areas or private patios. The Hybrid Energyfloor® is the world’s first energy floor that merges two different technologies to produce local clean energy.
Energy is everywhere. The electricity produced by human power cannot change the world, but human awareness can. Michel Smit, CEO, Energy Floors
Meanwhile, the LED-lit version of the energy floor – the Sustainable Dance Floor – remains popular with promoters and event organisers for interacting with the public and delivering messages in a powerful way. For educators, it is a great way to communicate the clean energy message; especially to younger people, who are essentially the decision makers of the future.
Key to the success of the Sustainable Dance Floor is the use of interactive apps or plug-ins that can be powered directly by the floor modules. These give feedback in order for people dancing on the floor to understand that they are the ones powering the floor.
The basic visual feedback is the LED lights which light up when modules are being stepped on. But interaction and understanding is also enhanced through ‘target-based’ elements such as energy meters, visual batteries, photo apps and gaming set-ups. These encourage people to put in some foot-power too if they want to see results!
Since the Sustainable Dance Floor was launched, it has engaged with over 8 million people and generated joules in a fun and interactive way – from teaching science in museums, to raising energy awareness at pop-up parties around the globe. So far more than 360 temporary and 21 permanent installations have been realised in more than 35 countries.
Energy Floors’ most recent installation was a pop-up event in Rio de Janiero to promote clean energy. Members of the public used dance-power to light up Rio’s most famous landmark, Christ The Redeemer; turning it green and projecting a beating heart by laser beam. They were also able to charge their smartphones and power a photo app to share their experience – and spread the clean energy message.
Our mission is to create awareness about energy production and energy consumption by making it interactive and fun and relating it to human scale. Energy Floors
For Energy Floors, every project presents an opportunity to raise awareness about alternative energy. And their efforts have not gone unnoticed, as earlier this year they won the National ENERGY GLOBE Award Netherlands 2014 for ‘promotion of conscientious energy use’. With more than 160 participating countries and over 1000 project submissions annually, the Energy Globe Award is the most prestigious environmental prize worldwide.
But according to Energy Floors’ CEO Michel Smit, we should be careful not to get too carried away. A world powered by pedestrians may not be feasible as yet but, “Lighting up the environment around the people or powering low power systems like a cell phone is possible”.
But for now, if the new pedestrian-powered Sustainable Energy Floor takes off, this could represent ‘One small step for man, one giant leap for human-powered flooring!’
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Image credits: Energy Floors, German Villafane, Feyenoord Stadium: ART at nl.wikipedia
Energy Floors feature in the December 2014 edition of Rhine Capital Partners MARKER® Monthly investment updates.
- On 22nd December 2014