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CCAT pedal powered commentary
Pedal Power Perspective: What if the energy being exerted by people exercising in a health spa could be harnessed and used to generate electricity or run mechanical devices? Would it be possible to actually convert health clubs into human power plants? Would it make sense to pay people to exercise instead of charging them to use the exercise facilities? Seem far fetched? Wouldn't it be analogous to the way native - aboriginal people are rewarded by nature for walking while foraging or running while hunting? Shouldn't there be a reward for doing the right thing, especially in a nation that spends almost 500 billion per year on chronic health care costs, most of which could be prevented by regular exercise. Also, how much of a dent could human powered devices make in our consumption of energy that is produced using toxic, deadly, polluting, non-renewable sources such as fossil fuels and nuclear power? How would improving the efficiency of the electrical devices we use help to make this a reality? These questions form the basis of our research into pedal power.
Bart Orlando - CCAT Volunteer: Bart Orlando began volunteering his expertise in pedal power at CCAT back in 1993, in answer to President Clinton's call for U.S. citizens to become community volunteers. Using a pedal powered generator to supply electricity to the PA system, he powered a speech by the Late David Brower at HSU. Since then, Bart has spent more then a decade guiding beginning HSU engineering students who assist him in making his designs of pedal powered equipment a reality. (Bart also has conducted research into the design of parabolic solar cookers at CCAT.) Bart earned a B.S. degree in pre-medical biology from UC Irvine, class of '82.
Spinning for the Future
Pedal power energy has been in use since the nineteenth century. Pedal power uses the most powerful muscles in the body: the quads, hamstrings, and calves. When pedaling in a circular motion at sixty to eighty revolutions per minute, with the use of toe clips, almost every muscle in the human legs can be used to make energy. Ninety-five percent of the exertion put into pedal power is converted into energy. The average rider at a continuous road speed of twelve miles per hour can produce a quarter horsepower, or enough energy to light two, one hundred-watt light bulbs (Wilson 1977).
In this day and age, with the over abundance of automobiles and powered machines, pedal power can still take a place in the lives of the earth conscious. Pedal power can be applied to a tremendously large variety of jobs besides the most familiar form, transportation. Tools that can be operated by pedal power are the bandsaw, meat grinder, wood carver, stone polisher and buffer, jewelers lathe, and pottery wheel. Appliances such as a juicer, potato peeler, meat slicer, cherry pitter, or a butter churn can be used with pedal power. On the farm, pedal power can pump water, plow, and clean grain. The list of applications that pedal power can be incorporated with can go on and on. Here at CCAT, pedal power is used to run a drill press, washing machine,grinder, TV/VCR, generator, and a human energy converter.
An important aspect of pedal power is that when the cranks are spun, the force is put into the machine unevenly. The energy being produced comes shakily and in spurts. A flywheel can be used to curb the effect of the unevenness associated with pedaling. Flywheels weigh between twenty-five and thirty-five pounds. The inertia of the spinning flywheel when spun at speed evens out the spikes of force that occur when pedaling.
Pedal Power is an excellent source of energy. Pedal power can be applied to a wide range of jobs. Pedal Power is a simple, cheap, and convenient source of energy. With the human population at six billion and growing, pedal power can be incorporated in the lives of families living in third world countries to improve the quality of their lives while being friendly to the earth. Pedal Power is an appropriate technology for now and for the future.
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