Cutting-edge technology using a stepping stone pathway will showcase human-powered energy harvesting at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.

A prototype of piezoelectric (PZ) enabled walkway tiles, developed by Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI), has been installed at the front entrance of the visitor complex, and is currently being tested by guests.

The PZ tiles generate electricity through energy harvesting when they are stepped on. The tiles will eventually be installed throughout the visitor complex to entertain and educate guests on sustainability and renewable energy.

“Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is at the epicenter of real, cutting edge implementation and application of new technologies,” said Therrin Protze, chief operating officer at KSCVC. “Our work with Georgia Tech Research Institute allows our guests to be a part of these new scientific advancements.”

The tiles illuminate to show guests are generating electricity. Piezoelectricity is the conversion of mechanical stress into electrical energy.

Piezoelectric energy can be used in flooring or roadway applications by using movement and vehicle vibrations to convert into usable electrical energy.

“Our goal is to not only create an exciting adventure for space center visitors, but to also help the public gain an understanding of real-life applications of sustainable technologies,” said Ilan Stern, GTRI senior research scientist.

The PZ tiles are stepping stones to new, green energy.

When installed at the visitor complex, the walkway will be the first real implementation of this energy harvesting technology. In addition to this practical purpose, the illumination of the PZ tiles will generate stepping patterns that will show up for interactive game activation with visitor complex guests. A smartphone application will allow users to learn more about the project and alternative energy harvesting methods.

About The Author

The youngest of seven children, Terry O. Roen followed two older brothers into journalism. Her career started as a reporter for the Orlando Sentinel, where she wrote stories on city and county government, schools, courts and religion. She has also reported for the Associated Press, where she covered the Casey Anthony and Trayvon Martin trials along with the Pulse massacre. Married to her husband, Hal, they have two children and live in Winter Park. A lifelong tourist in her own state, she writes about Central Florida’s growing tourism industry for Florida Politics and Orlando Rising.

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