Pavnext.TECH: Saving the Planet through Pavement Energy Harvesting
Using alternate resources for energy harvesting is the most logical solution to achieve a sustainable environment and subsequently, a healthy planet. In this interview with Francisco Duarte, CEO at Pavnext.TECH, we understand how Pavnext’s unique pavement energy harvesting works and how urban cities are benefiting from it.
What is pavement energy harvesting?
Pavement energy harvesting uses the resources available in the pavement and harvests this energy by converting it into other useful forms. Simply put, pavements are subjected to solar exposition and vehicle loads. It is possible to harvest these resources and convert them into electrical energy by using appropriate technologies.
How can pavement and geotechnical energy harvesting be used for transportation, traffic monitoring, and road safety?
By harvesting solar energy, thermal gradients or vehicle kinetic energy, and using appropriate technologies, it is possible to generate clean electrical energy. Pavnext’s technology can use kinetic energy from vehicles to not only generate electricity but also reduce vehicle speeds and monitor traffic flows in cities. In this way, our technology makes use of a single resource (traffic) to provide multiple solutions.
What sort of pavement energy harvesting research did you do before starting Pavnext?
Before starting Pavnext, I spent four years at MIT-Portugal to complete a research for my Ph.D. My research comprised of a scientific and experimental development of a new technology solution to convert a vehicle’s kinetic energy into high-efficiency electrical energy. During the research and development, other key functionalities were added and thus originated the whole concept that Pavnext is now exploring.
Which kind of businesses can benefit the most by using Pavnext’s services?
Pavnext allows municipalities to improve road safety, decrease energy consumptions from the grid and optimize resources, such as traffic. Municipalities (cities and its citizens) will be the main beneficiaries of Pavnext’s solution. Other businesses that will benefit from Pavnext’s solution include motorway operators, car parking owners, and shopping-mall operators, as they will be able to ensure better road safety in their spaces, as well as decrease the electrical consumption from the electrical grid.
Tell us about your experience of being part of the Portuguese startup ecosystem.
The Portuguese startup ecosystem has grown to become a very strong and solid ecosystem. Pavnext has grown from an academic project into a business, and we’ve had the support of multiple incubators and accelerator programs.
We’ve participated in several innovation competitions which have introduced us to various mentors and partners. Coming from a small country makes it easier for us to connect with multiple stakeholders. In less than six months, we’ve had the support of IPN (Coimbra), UPTEC (Porto) and BGI (Lisbon). This has enabled us to define and validate a solid business model for our project in a short amount of time.
Tell us more about your work with the city of Cascais.
We are developing, together with the city of Cascais (the fifth biggest city in Portugal), the first pilot plant of its technology to test in a real environment, the behavior of our devices and to showcase all the functionalities. The tests are expected to begin in December 2017 and will be extended during the coming months.
The application of our technology is slated to generate clean electrical energy which will be used to supply a road safety device in a crosswalk, and it will also help monitor traffic, vehicle speeds and the energy produced.
What are you looking forward to the most at Web Summit? How are you preparing for your exhibit at the event?
Our primary focus is to look for international partners, both from the industry side and from the venture capital side, to support us in the ‘go to market’ stage. We are carefully evaluating the visitors’ list to identify who we should connect with during or after the event. We would really like to make the most of this amazing event!