This summer at the largest urban mall in Europe, visitors may notice something different at their feet. Twenty bright green rubber tiles will adorn one of the outdoor walkways at the Westfield Stratford City Mall, which abuts the new Olympic stadium in east London.
The squares aren't just ornamental. They are designed to collect the kinetic energy created by the estimated 40 million pedestrians who will use that walkway in a year, generating several hundred kilowatt-hours of electricity from their footsteps. That's enough to power half the mall's outdoor lighting.
The slabs are produced by Pavegen Systems, a London startup launched in 2009 by Laurence Kemball-Cook, a fresh-faced, 26-year-old Londoner who developed his clean energy idea while earning a degree in industrial design and technology at Loughborough University. The 17.7-by-23.6-inch (45-by-60-centimeter) tiles are designed to be used wherever pedestrians congregate en masse: transportation hubs such as train, subway, and bus stations; airports; schools; malls; bustling shopping avenues. The power generated from millions of footfalls can be used to operate a range of low-power applications, including lighting, signs, digital ads, and Wi-Fi zones.