Refining Human Powered Energy
Tom Spendlove posted on November 04, 2013 |
The Pedal Power Kickstarter wants to bring bicycle powered energy to the world.

The Pedal Power Kickstarter project is based on the idea that bicycle technology is ninety seven percent efficient. This efficiency can be harnessed to create easy emergency power.

The economics of a human-powered generator are definitely small scale. The Pedal Power folks estimate that an adult can generate seventy five watts for two hours. These one hundred fifty watts could power phones, laptops or other personal electronic devices in emergency situations.

This energy requiring two hours of human effort would barely cost two cents based on the American national average of $0.12 per kilowatt hour. Because of this limited output the creators of the project frame this as on-demand energy.

Two different products are being offered as the focus of this Kickstarter campaign. The Big Rig that includes a seat and bench with an output between one third and one horsepower. The Big Rig has been developed and tested to drive several appliances, including an electrical generator. The tabletop setup exists so that a user can sit at the desk and pedal while plugging their device into the outlet at the top of the desk.

The Pedal Genny is smaller, less expensive and more portable. The mini machine is intended to do one thing at a time as a plug-in instead of a charging station. This bare bones system does not include a seat or a generator and is meant to be a modular experience.

Andy and Steve are the partners who've formed Pedal Power and are asking for a small amount of money to develop designs, plans and assembly instructions. The long term goal is that anyone can buy a bicycle generator in a bicycle shop at a low cost and produce cheap easy power. In the interim they're hoping that anyone can support the campaign, download the plans and develop a bike generator on their own.

The campaign video is well done and the idea of bicycle powered generators is brilliant. Engineers of a certain age will remember the ease with which the gang on Gilligan's Island powered everything from radios to washing machines with their bamboo generators. The power goes out at my house three or four times a year, and riding a bike for an hour to charge phones or laptops and run the water pump for morning showers seems like a small amount of effort for incredible benefit.

Several generators that use a bicycle are already on the market but this approach of selling the plans and using a Kickstarter to spread the knowledge should help move this high quality high efficiency idea forward.

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