Watching a big city marathon is an incredible sight. Wave after wave of runners voluntarily running along city streets, expending enormous amounts of energy to cross the finish line 26.2 miles from the start. And at the Paris Marathon this weekend at least some of that energy produced by the estimated 40,000 runners won't be wasted.
The race, sponsored by Schneider Energy, will cover 82 feet of the course with tiles that collect energy from footsteps and turn them into kinetic energy that's collected in a battery and used to power electric signs and display screens along the race route, Bloomberg reports. Every footstep can generate as much as 8 watts of energy.
The energy harvesting tiles are made by Pavegen Systems, a London-based company, which says its tiles are the "first tangible way for people to engage with renewable energy generation."
It won't be the first time this fascinating technology has been used to harvest energy. It's been used in a subway station, shopping mall, school, and events that attract crowds of people. The best spots, of course, are cities, and other places, that get heavy, consistent foot traffic.
Being a relatively new product, the one barrier to wider adoption is cost. The goal for the marathon is to collect at least seven kilowatt hours of electricity, or the equivalent of one light bulb powered for five days. It's not an extraordinary amount, so costs can't be high if the company wants to see these tiles go mainstream. However, the company did tell Bloomberg that they've cut the cost per tile in half in the past year and, while they didn't say the current cost, they hope to get the price down to about $76 per tile.
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