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Energy Harvesting
Brian Doyle, Materials Science and Engineering 12
An opportunity exists at Rutgers University to implement a piezoelectric energy harvesting floor in the Busch Campus Center. The volume of foot traffic in the main hallway provides a great opportunity to promote energy awareness, while harvesting energy normally wasted. The main goal is to increase awareness of sustainable practices, which is accomplished through the floor itself and the two demonstration events through the first year. The harvested energy is on the order of 7 kWh per day, which is enough offset of the energy associated with the television displays that track the cumulative energy generate. This proposal suggests a three-phase adoption strategy beginning with rental of floor tiles and continuing on with expansion through the student center and other well traveled areas on the New Brunswick campus. The estimated costs are on the order $50,000 for the rented tiles and $800,000 for the full permanent installation.

9 pages
Major: Materials Science and Engineering

Minor: Psychology Graduation: May 2012

575 Easton Ave, Apt 14E Somerset, NJ 08873 862-432-7457


As Rutgers University grows through the era of sustainability, there is an increasing need to find alternative sources of energy. This presents an opportunity to implement a piezoelectric energy-harvesting floor in the Busch Campus Center. A piezoelectric floor generates electricity through the deformation of the material under a load. Due to the high foot traffic of the campus center throughout the weekday, the energy harvested potential and energy awareness can be recognized. Such an energy generation source must be something easily implemented and utilize property that is already developed. Both of these issues are successfully addressed by the installation of piezoelectric floor tiles. These tiles would be installed in the main walkway portion between the main entrance by the bus stop and the back exit next to the post office. The tiles can be installed on top of the current floor and will be connected to an inverter, which will connect the energy generated to the electrical system in the building or any peripheral electronics like a television display. Promoting energy awareness is an integral part of this proposal. The fact that the piezoelectric floor will be seen and physically walked on provide constant reminder of the sustainable practices going on at Rutgers University. This physical reminder will be supplemented signage and electronic displays in and around the campus center displaying information about the system and the energy harvesting capabilities. This opportunity constitutes a pilot program that upon its successful completion will provide a model for implementation throughout the entire New Brunswick Campus. Piezoelectric energy harvesting floors could be incorporated into the floors of the student centers as well as in

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting

the sidewalks along College Ave, for example, in the future. This proposal will allow Rutgers University to confirm the benefit of the project and be able to make a more informed decision about future investment.


The energy harvesting aspect of these piezoelectric floor tiles lies in the unique proeperties of the crystal structure. Certain ceramics, such as lead zirconate titanate shown in Figure 1, form a tetragonal structure with a small atom in the center. When the crystal is strained, the center atom displaces from its lattice site and creates a potential. In our case, this displacement allows for energy harvesting of the depression caused during foot strike. The energy output of these types of energy harvesting tiles depends upon the applied force; a larger stress corresponds to a larger potential difference and thus more energy. In order to estimate the power output of a single person walking through the campus center, it is important to determine the magnitude of forces experienced by the ground during walking. While walking, the force exerted on the ground is approximately 1 1.5x the individual body weight[1] (Ground Reaction Forces). Using the assumption that on average, the body mass of a student is around 80 kilograms (including men, women, and the carrying books, etc) the force felt by the floor is on the order of 800N. This force translates into about 5 Watt-seconds per step Figure 1. Lead zirconate titanate crystal structure. Image from: /handle/123456789/1022/Items/T356_1 _section17.html

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting

harvested by the tile[2]. Using a displacement of 0.01 cm under the 100 N force yields a 10.4 J/step capable of being harnessed. The top of the line modules used in this proposal are able to harvest 50% of this energy[3]. Two companies offer this type of product: POWERleap Inc This company is new to the energy harvesting market. They offer a product called the PowerFloor, shown in Figure 2, that comes with an integrated LED bar and has the ability to wirelessly transmit power and energy data. This recorded data, which includes number of steps, energy, and change in temperature of the room, can be shown on an television monitor to raise awareness of the energy generated Figure 2. PowerFloor Module.
Taken from:

Sustainable Dance Club A bigger player in the energy-harvesting field, this company set out on the self-titled mission to create sustainable dance clubs. While their main focus in sustainability is dance club management, their top of the line product is the energy harvesting floor tile. Their product, known as the Sustainable Energy Floor (SEF) and seen in Figure 3, can be incorporated into any floor arrangement and can be ordered in pure black or with an LED display. They offer customization in terms of top design for an additional fee. These tiles have already been implemented successfully in many Figure 3. SEF Floor Tile different venues. The most successful in terms of energy generated has been their dance floor model, which at full

Taken from: products

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting

capacity can mitigate upwards of 30% of the dance clubs energy usage. Sustainable Dance Club has had experience in projects ranging form permanent installations at museums in Miami and Philadelphia to one-time events in Vancouver, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi. Both companies offer an opportunity to purchase and rent the energy harvesting tiles. For this proposal, the first step would involve renting the units in order to better understand the realistic benefit that can be realized. These tiles would be implemented between the front entrance to the student center by the bus stop and the exit near the post office. The distance covered by walking from one end to the other takes approximately 250 steps per person. Using an estimate of 20,000 people walking through the campus center throughout the day, the top of the line tiles previously mentioned are able to harvest 7.23 kWh per day. The detailed calculations are broken down and shown in the Calculations section. This walking path contains an area of nearly 4,000 ft2 that would be covered by the tiles. The estimated material cost for permanent tiles is on the order of $700,000 with subsequent installation and maintenance costs. The total implementation costs would be around $800,000. Detailed monetary data can be found in the Financial section. Because of the high installation cost, it seems more practical to implement a rented floor tile system to determine the feasibility of the system. A 50-tile system rented over a 1-3 year period would cost $35,000 in product with an additional $30,000 in installation and maintenance. This possibility would generate 173 Watts per day, which would go toward the low power energy needs of monitoring and displaying the harvested energy. The rental period will allow for the realistic expectations of a full floor. After that period, the higher cost of the full-time tiles can be well reasoned if it makes sense for the university. At the very least, it is an less expensive method of introducing awareness for energy consumption and the impact of sustainable practices.

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting

Energy Awareness The purpose of this project is to raise energy awareness in the student population. This is accomplished through installation of the floor tiles as well as installation of a television displaying current and cumulative energy harvesting. The floor tiles themselves will be a physical reminder of the technology and will likely provoke conversation concerning this hightech energy harvesting method. For those students that are more interested, the television will display specific data regarding the energy harvested per day, week, and year as well as information about the company and product employed in this project. In an attempt to create more attention for the installation, two awareness events will take place during the one-year rental period. One time in the Fall and one time in the Spring of the rental period, an energy-harvesting station will be turned into a game platform. This energy harvesting station will be connected to a game console to turn the floor tiles into a larger version of the popular dance game, Dance Dance Revolution, as exemplified in Figure 4. This is technically feasible because each tile exists with the ability to act as a sensor as well as an

Figure 4. An example set up of an energy harvesting interactive event. In this proposal, the event would incorporate the popular Dance Dance Revolution game. Figure taken from source [3].

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting

energy-harvesting unit. The sensor output can easily be utilized for the gaming system in a similar set-up to the actual game. The event would take place in the open area by the Cove and the Help Desk in the Busch Campus Center. It is these two opportunities that will expose students to the technology behind the energy-harvesting unit. It is an interesting opportunity because it combines a popular game with the knowledge of sustainable energy practices The exciting aspect of this proposal is the ability to combine energy awareness with energy generation. While energy awareness is the major effect of this program, there is still a considerable amount of energy generated that can be utilized. Low power applications such as powering the television that displays the harvested energy are available and will enhance the visual impact of the program.


Phase I During the first phase, the 50 energy-harvesting tiles will be rented for a one-year period starting in the Fall 2012. The installation can be completed in one weekend directly on top of the existing floor. During the ensuing one-year period, the energy statistics are recorded. As previously mentioned, two awareness activities will be held with one in each semester. The set up of these Dance Dance Revolution gaming areas requires the movement of the tiles into the area near the Help Desk and the Cove. This time period is long enough to gain an accurate representation of the full investment. If further investment were not desired, the project would end after Phase I with an increase in student awareness for energy harvesting possibilities.

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting

Phase II The successful completion of Phase I leads to the purchase of the energy harvesting floor tiles. At this time, the total square footage and number of tiles will be determined by the given walking area. Because the rental period will have presumably gone off without major problems, the installation can occur over a 3-week period. The longer time relative to the initial installation takes into account the permanent nature of the new tiles versus the temporary nature of the previous phase. The major expense in this phase is the tile installation, i.e. the tile and labor cost. the total square footage needed for the installation is determined.

Phase III During this phase, future expansion opportunities will be considered. Successful completion of Phases I and II will begin the planning of future implementations, most likely within 18-24 months of the beginning of Phase II. Future opportunities include implementation of energy harvesting floor tiles in other campus centers on Livingston, College Ave, Cook, and Douglass. These new destinations can follow the same progression as this proposal or skip straight to Phase II.


1.3 ! 80 kg ! 9.8 m s2 = 1019.2 N

1019.2 N ! 0.01m = 10.19 J step

The calculation assumes that the exerted force is equal to 1.3x the mass of an 80kg individual multiplied by the acceleration of gravity. This force applied over the 0.01m depression of the tile results in 10.19J for every step a person takes. The advertised efficiency of each unit is 50%,

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting

meaning 5.10J are harvesting for every step a person takes. Using the approximation that the distance from the entrance to the back exit is 250 ft and that the average stride allows 1.5 feet between steps, the associated energy harvesting potential is:

5.10 J step !

375 ft 1kWh kWh x = 0.000354 6 ft 1.5 step 3.6 x10 J person

0.000354 kWh person ! 20, 000 persons day = 7.07 kWh day

The number of 20,000 students per day takes into account many students that walk through the campus center more than once. This estimate was based off of visual count done during a weekday. The estimate for the rental unit of 50 tiles assumes a 18 foot by 6 foot rectangular area. Assuming the student will walk the 18 foot length and relying on the previously stated assumptions:

5.10 J step !

18 ft 1kWh kWh x = 0.000017 6 ft 1.5 step 3.6 x10 J person

0.000017 kWh person ! 20, 000 persons day = 0.34 kWh day

The weekly and semester long totals are based on a 5-day week and a 15 week semester.

Energy Harvested Daily 50 Tiles (Phase I) Weekly Semester Daily 1400 Tiles (Phase II) Weekly Semester 0.34 kWh 1.7 kWh 25.5 kWh 7.07 kWh 35.35 kWh 530 kWh

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting



Phase I Cost (Rental)

Phase II Cost (Purchased)

Phase III Cost


$666.90 per tile


$500.00 per tile


$500 per tile

$1.5+ million

Installation Service Contract Two Awareness Events Total Cost

$5,000 $10,000

$30,000 $40,000 $2,500 per event $782,500

$50,000+ $50,000+ $2,500 per event $1.6+ million



The decrease in per tile cost is due to discount for bulk ordering. The installation and service contract costs are estimates. The awareness events take into account the labor and costs for small appliances used (television, game console, etc). References [1] Nilsson, J., Thorstensson, A. Ground reaction forces at different speeds of human walking and running. Act Physiologica Scandinavica. Vol 136, Issue 2, pages 217-227, June 1989 [2] [3] POWERleap Website: Energy Floors Limited (Sustainable Dance Club Subsidiary). Sustainable Energy Floors Information Leaflet

Piezoelectric Energy Harvesting