Footsteps Turned To Electricity in London Olympic Site

December 8, 2011

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.
1. pavement (n.) [peyv-muhnt] – a walkway on the side of the road
    Example: People feel safer walking on the newly constructed pavement.

2. prototype (n.) [proh-tuh-tahyp] – a working model
     Example: The prototype convinced investors to mass market the invention.
3. assess (v.) [uh-ses] – to evaluate
    Example: Food needs to be assessed before they are sold in the market.

4. durable (adj.) [door-uh-buhl] – capable of withstanding strong forces
    Example: The shoes remained durable even after she used them for mountain climbing.

5. cost-effective (adj.) [kawst-i-fek-tiv] – economical; profitable
    Example: Using recycled materials is more cost-effective than buying new ones.

Read the text below.

The 2012 London Olympics site will soon be lit with the power of human footsteps.

British engineers are ready to showcase a pavement slab that transforms energy from people’s footsteps into electricity. These pavement slabs, called PaveGen, are set to be installed between the recently opened Westfield Stratford City Mall, Europe’s largest urban mall, and London’s Olympic Stadium.

The slabs produce energy from the compression resulting from footsteps. The details of the slab’s mechanism, however, remain confidential.  

According to Laurence Kemball-Cook, designer of the prototype model, the invention operates through crowdsourcing, the act of putting together small actions to produce greater results. Based on the estimated 30 million mall customers next year, PavGen can provide energy for half of the mall’s outdoor lightings.

The slabs were initially tested in a school in Kent in southern England, where 1,100 kids walked on them over the course of eight months. Its effectiveness was also assessed in a big festival, where 250,000 footsteps generated enough energy to charge 10,000 cellphones.

The slabs made from recycled rubber are durable and easy to install. However, Kemball-Cook admits that its commercial success will depend on how cost-effective it will be to produce on a large scale.

With their innovative solution to energy problems, the makers received awards in the Big Idea category at the UK's Ethical Business Awards and the Shell LiveWire Grand Ideas Award. 

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.
Discussion A

·         What are the advantages and disadvantages of using natural sources of energy?
·         Do you prefer natural sources of energy? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         Do you think PaveGen should be used by places with no electricity? Is it economical? Why?
·         What can be alternative energy sources for places with no electricity?

December 8, 2011