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The Battalion

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A&M student works to convert walking energy into electricity in Rec

Energy+can+be+generated+through+footsteps+via+special+floor+tiles+which+harness+the+motion+and+convert+it.
Photo by Jenny Hollowell

Energy can be generated through footsteps via special floor tiles which harness the motion and convert it.

While the Rec Center may have just finished construction on a new weight room, it’s possible that future surprises are in store for it in the area of clean energy.
One Texas A&M student has been working hard to have floor tiles installed in the Rec Center entry that could convert the energy generated by walking into usable electricity. Working with the Pavegen Company, electrical engineering senior Craig Wolf has been working to make cleaner energy sources a reality on A&M’s campus.
Wolf said he was first inspired when he saw the Pavegen tiles — floor modeling technology that generates energy from footsteps — featured in the 2012 London Olympic facilities, and he has been working toward his goal individually for more than two years now. Last spring, he received a grant of $60,000 from the Aggie Green Fund to help finance the project.
“I was inspired to make a difference and make it a little more sustainable, make the world more sustainable,” Wolf said. “I was on the Green Fund at the time, and I was just kind of thinking, ‘What could I do to actually make a difference?’ And this seems like a significant project. It wasn’t just a water fountain — it was something that people could see that’s different. It could inspire them to make changes. So I looked it up and kind of just ran with it.”
Wolf said he began searching for a location where the tiles would experience high foot traffic and return a high amount of electricity. After some deliberation, he settled on the Rec, envisioning the tiles placed just before the turnstiles in the entrance. He said the most practical use of the energy would be to create an environment-friendly phone charging station.
“Your stepping motion creates the energy which is then sent to either a battery system or a supercapacitor system; it depends how you weigh it out, and how much you want to spend,” Wolf said. “That can then be converted to what you need for your cell phones.”
Dennis Corrington, executive director of Rec Sports, said installing the tiles right now would conflict with an upcoming flooring project that the Rec is scheduled to undergo soon. He also expressed concerns of a potential safety issue.
“We kind of came to the conclusion that now is not a very good time because we’re replacing all the flooring in May,” Corrington said. “And these pads have a profile so, to a degree, we were concerned a little about a trip hazard, but they assured us that it met ADA standards.”
Rick Hall, senior associate director of the Rec, said the idea is intriguing but there are still some concerns to address.
“We want to support those types of things — the creativity, the ingenuity of the students,” said Hall. “And if it’s green, as long as we’re able to answer those other questions, we’re saying, ‘Well, let’s give it a try.’”
Hall said he felt working with Wolf was a good way for them to get involved in helping to make the Rec a little greener and the planet a little more sustainable.
“It shows that we’re all working together as a team to see if there are some alternatives,” Hall said. “And hey, if that’s the first baby step, and it’s just a charging station for phones, then that’s the first baby step.”
Wolf said as the chair of the Aggie Green Fund, he hopes to get people thinking about differences they can make to help improve the environment.
“Once you get people educated, then they’re thinking about ways in their lives they could make a difference, such as using less water, turning off the lights when they’re not there, stuff like that, which, over time, piles up,” Wolf said. “And just educating people in general helps, maybe it inspires them to do something with their major that has to do with sustainability or clean energy. So it’s kind of the impact on so many students that come through Texas A&M and use the Rec, it would be pretty big if everybody just took a little bit away from it.”

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  • In the future, exercising at the Rec may also help power the lights in a form of clean, reusable energy.

    Photo by Jenny Hollowell

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