UCLL wins European award for energy-generating dance floor


A team of scientists and students from the University College Leuven-Limburg have won the European Festival Award for an energy-generating dance floor they installed at last year’s Pukkelpop music festival


Last year’s Pukkelpop music festival saw some unlikely stars among its headline acts. While Rihanna, The Chemical Brothers and Craig David provided entertainment on stage, a team of scientists and students from the University College Leuven-Limburg (UCLL) showcased their green energy projects and busied themselves recycling some of the 400 tonnes of waste with the help of 3D-printed gadgets.

Now the hard work has paid off. The UCLL team recently won the European Festival Award for the energy-generating dance floor it had installed at Pukkelpop. Festival-goers were encouraged to jump on squares and work off their beers, powering lights in the process.

The project, in the festival’s Baraque Futur zone, also had a smart energy net, powered by windmills and solar power, with a rapeseed oil generator as a back-up. “It all worked on green energy, and we used it to feed the whole Baraque Futur site,” says UCLL scientist Thomas Henderickx.

And while festival-goers danced away, students were turning some of the flood of discarded plastic cups into filament for 3D printers. They then printed key chains for members of the audience.    

Bigger and better

After a busy period preparing for the festival, Henderickx and his team didn’t think about the possibility of winning a prize. “We were working so hard,” he says. “It was a big surprise. We had never done anything on this scale before. We had the theoretical knowledge but not the practical experience.”

They weren’t even sure, he says, that it would appeal to festival-goers. “They are there for the music and to have fun. You never know how they will react to something like this, but actually, when they were not partying, they were really interested. They were asking, ‘How does it work? What’s behind it?’”

Henderickx hopes that the interest at the festival and subsequent media attention will put the spotlight on clean energy. “If it can work there,” he says, “it can work anywhere.”

The technology could eventually be rolled out at other festivals, but there are no plans to use it at the next edition of Pukkelpop for the time being. In August, however, the team wants to return to the festival bigger and better.

The goal is to have 100 students involved – double the size of last year’s team. So if it’s not a dance floor, what will Henderickx’s team be up to? “Sorry, but that’s classified.”

Photo courtesy UCLL