Wednesday, April 27, 2011

W (Week 37): Watts Up

Spring is here, and everything is greening up. But going green means more these days, especially during Earth Week. On Friday, Earth Day, the Give-a-Watt: Pedal it Forward project gave anyone who was interested the chance to burn off some calories and generate a little wattage at the same time.

The project was organized by CSU's Professor Ray Browning and the Department of Health and Exercise Science Physical Activity Laboratory, and the Department of Human Dimensions of Natural Resources. The goal (taken from their project page) was to “test the feasibility of using stationary, energy harvesting bicycles in public, high-traffic areas as a means of:

Promoting physical activity
Increasing awareness of physical activity and energy conservation
Contributing to local non-profit organizations using electrical power as currency.”

What (I’m resisting the urge to change that to “watt”) a great idea. Three stationary Human Dynamo bicycles on the Student Center plaza provided the means for generating electricity, which was then converted from direct to alternating current. (As far as I know, this may require the flux capacitor from Back to the Future). As for the “pedal it forward” part, all energy generated, plus a matching contribution, was to be donated to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Education Coalition (BPEC) and Fort Collins Bike Co-op, two local organizations promoting safe and fun biking for all.

After a group of elementary school students burned off a small portion of their boundless energy, I got to hop on and pedal. A flat panel screen showed how many watts were being generated and gave general fitness and energy facts. (The display can be tailored for any ages or interests.) Because all three bikes were in use at once, I couldn’t tell how much wattage I was generating, but I hope it was more than the average hamster might generate on an average night of wheel-running. (I don’t know, though. Those little guys go pretty fast.)

I don’t have the final numbers, but when I left the bikes at about 11:30, 535 watts had been generated. I then ventured inside to listen to a panel discussion about energy, sustainability, and bicycle safety. There I learned that 8 hours on the energy bike would generate 3 kilowatts of energy. In comparison, the average family uses 23 kilowatts per day.

At $2000 for a Human Dynamo bike, I may not be able to pedal down my household energy consumption right now, but I can sign up to use wind energy to reduce my family’s footprint. And making sure I turn off the lights helps, too.

2 comments:

Pixiebaby said...

Too bad they are so expensive. Over time I'm sure that they would save a person way more than the cost, but coming up with the initial investment is an ouch. Nice post. :)

Catherine Denton said...

Thanks for pointing this out. What a fun earth-friendly day!
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