Sainsbury Supermarket Opens People-Powered Checkout Lines

Kinetic-plate-generating Piezoelectric energy—energy produced when stress is applied to an object—is already used to produce power for roads, subways, and nightclubs. Now a Sainsbury supermarket in Gloucester, England, is using kinetic plates to keep checkout lines moving.

Sainsbury's road plates, which are similar to those seen on London streets, produce 30kWh of energy every hour from cars passing over the bumps in the store parking lot. The Highway Energy Systems-designed road plates are pushed down by the weight of the vehicles, creating a rocking motion that turns generators. Energy from the generators is captured and used inside the supermarket.

The system, which generates more than enough energy to power the store's checkout lines, supposedly doesn't affect vehicle fuel efficiency. That's a sore spot for existing piezoelectric projects, as detractors claim that they are "energy thieves" that suck up energy from gasoline and convert it into forward motion. But if the Sainsbury road plates are in an area where cars are slowing down anyway (i.e. a downward ramp), then the energy is clean.

Piezoelectric road plates are just one of Sainsbury's sustainable initiatives. The Gloucester Quays store also uses rainwater to flush toilets and solar thermal panels to heat 100% of the water used during the summer.

[Via UK Guardian]

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6 Comments

  • Illysa Izenberg

    Can anyone imaging Giant installing these? How about bee hotels? Let's get on it folks.

  • anjali susty

    Sainsbury's was founded in 1869 by John James Sainsbury and his wife Mary Ann (née Staples), in London, England, and grew rapidly during the Victorian era.

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  • midas soft

    More recently, there is growing concern regarding the toxicity in lead-containing devices driven by the result of restriction of hazardous substances directive regulations. To address this concern, there has been a resurgence in the compositional development of lead-free piezoelectric materials.

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  • silver water

    The use of piezoelectric materials to harvest power has already become popular. Piezoelectric materials have the ability to transform mechanical strain energy into electrical charge. Piezo elements are being embedded in walkways to recover the "people energy" of footsteps. They can also be embedded in shoes to recover "walking energy".

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  • midas soft

    Piezoelectric crystals or fibers generate a small voltage whenever they are mechanically deformed. Vibration from engines can stimulate piezoelectric materials, as can the heel of a shoe.

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  • Wayne Smallman

    I first wrote about this technology last year in an article listing some of the top alternative energy technologies. It's great to see this tech' being used here in Britain.

    I think it's a technology that mature enough to be used in inner city areas, to power traffic lights and other municipal utilities.