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Difference between revisions of "Green Campus Bicycle Generator"

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==Proposed Budget==
==Proposed Budget==
Budget for Pedal powered generator modeled from
* no battery in design & bike not in budget
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| $10
| $10
TOTAL = $235
'''TOTAL = $235'''
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Revision as of 01:37, 18 February 2008


There are many ways to create and use energy. Energy stems from two basic forms; Potential energy, energy that is not yet active and Kinetic energy, energy which comes from the motion of things. This includes energy from our own bodies to do work. Instead of using our own potential energy, our modern day society has switch to using energy harvested from other sources such as fossil fuels. For example instead of using our own energy to walk up a flight of stairs, most Americans chose to use the elevator. However, not all situations have as easily found solutions. Most appliances only run off of electricity. One solution to our lack of utilizing human energy includes a stationary bicycle powered by a human body that produces energy.

Description of Opportunity

Green Campus would like to have a bike powered generator. The human-pedal powered generator will be used to run a laptop computer for their various demonstrations. The bike would work as a demo to inform the amount of wattage used to light different types of light bulbs; incandescent, CFL, and LCD. The pedals on the bike would work as mechanical energy and light the bulbs. This will also help illistrate the amount of energy needed to power each type of bulb. It can also inform the public about alternatives to energy sources and perhaps exercising methods as well. It would also help individuals grasp the concept of creating Energy or the capacity of doing work.

In order to design a pedal powered generator fit for Green Campus’ purpose, the amount of energy needed to power the bulb which needs the most amount of energy (incandescent) must be known and the right size generator and battery to run it. The power created through the bike which will run the generator is DC power, however LCD's only run off of AC power. This means a transformer will be needed to turn DC electricity in to AC electricity. The bike will be used for demonstrations, thus it should be easy to transport and take the stress of several different sized humans using it. This means the device should be light weight thus an entire bike is not needed, yet stable, which places emphasis on a sturdy frame in which the bike will be build on.


  1. Effectivness; the generator should be able to light all of the light bulbs. This means creating both AC and DC power.
  2. Reliability; the unit should be able to work when it should. This means a simple design with few on-going repairs.
  3. Maintainabilty: Few routine maintnance repairs that are easy to identify and to service that are easy and safe.
  4. Repairability: The parts needed for any repairs should be easy to find and be at a low cost.
  5. Availability; the unit should be able to be used for several public displays. This includes ease of transportation.
  6. Safety; the design meets national electrical code guidelines
  7. Comfortable; the public must want to use the bike. If it is awkward or uncomfortable they will assume all pedal powered generators are.
  8. Sturdy; it should be able to hold the pressure of an array of body types and velocities.
  9. Up-cycle; the materials when applicable should be re-used materials.
  10. initial Cost; should stay with in Green Campus' budget, about $250.

Literature Review

Pedal Power basics

Pedal power is basically using human energy on a bicycle to do work for us. This can range from the most common use of s bike which is transportation, to creating an electrical current for a laptop. There are many ways to apply this technology to several uses. Although the technology of using pulley and gears have been used for thousands or years and the use of bikes as transportation have been used for hundreds of years , it was not until Dick Ott created his “Pedal Pusher” where he attempted to harness the “power of pedal” in the mid-twentieth century (McCullagh 1977). The criteria used to create the Pedal Pusher is still important today; a simplicity, easy operation and maintenance, and low cost.

Types of Pedal Power

There are several types of reasons and methods to converting a bicycle into a device other than transportation. According to R.J. Congdon, a human on a bike is the most efficient traveling animal or machine; defining efficiency as the “energy units required per unit weight per unit of distance travelled...[this] based partly on the efficiency of the large diameter of the wheel, the pneumatic tire, and the ball bearings” (Congdon 1977). Please see Figure 6.1. According to James C. McCullagh, “the muscle energy conversion of the bicycle is around 95 percent” (McCullagh 1977).

There are two main types of pedal power that can be crated; Electrical devices and mechanical devices, each having an ability to do the best type of work for certain tasks.

Manual Pedal Power

Like the typical bike, the manual pedal power works solely using gears and belts or chains in order for human exertion to become energy for work. Stationary manual pedal power devices are usually modified for a specific task. Two basic methods to creating a stationary manual pedal power device is modify a regular bike or add pedals to any other devise that is already hand-driven (Congdon,1977). This means the manual devise can be used for a number of tasks from pumping water (Example;, grinding wheat or corn, shelling nuts, churning butter, plowing a field, to attaching it to house hold appliances such as a blender or a drill. The manual device is more efficient than the electrical one because all of the power created by the pedals is directly used to do its specific task; there is no energy loss by converting the mechanical energy in to different types of electricity. Unfortunately, most of these devices are very specific and can only be used for the intended reason.

Electrical Pedal Power

The electrical pedal power stationary bike is used to create an electrical current for electrical devices, this opens up the availability of different appliances to run on pedal power. Here is a very brief introduction of how electricity is created taken from Appropriate Technology; Tools, Choices, and Implications (Hazeltine 1999). First and foremost, energy is the capacity to do work. In essence work is the transfer of energy in one form to the next. Different types of energy include potential, kinetic, mechanical, electrical and chemical energy. When we convert energy from one form to the next, there is always energy loss. The loss of energy in the conversion process calculated through its efficiency. Efficiency= energy out/energy in.

Thus in the case of the electrical pedal power device, mechanical energy is converted in to electrical energy. The efficiency of this electrical device is not as high as the manual device but it is more adaptable to several situations, usually not just one specific task. The efficiency of the device is further lowered if the Direct Current (DC) created must be converted into Alternating Current (AC) in order to run an appliance. This raises the initial cost of the device because added parts such as diodes and inverters are needed to convert the currents (Russavage, 4).

Pedal Power concerns

The first aspect of pedal power is identifying the most efficient design that will be appropriate for the task at hand. Both of the designs must be safe for the peddler; thus it must be secured to the stationary stand and all parts should be secured. When dealing with the electrical pedal powered device, more concerns are raised. There should not be more volts entering the appliance than it can handle, otherwise it could short circuit and damage the pedal power device and or the appliance.

Designing interpretive materials

According to Yvette Garcia from the “Powering a laptop computer at CCAT” (Garcia5) materials needed to create an electrical pedal powered device include:

Bike: the bike should be stationary.

Flywheel: a heavy rotating disk used to store momentum.

Battery: It is important to match the voltage of the appliance you are trying to power.

Diode: allows energy to be transferred from the generator to the battery

Fuses: needed protect your wiring should your system short circuit.

Generator: The generator actually transforms human energy into mechanical energy. Distributor: C and

Inverter: converts DC currents into volts ac current for powering common household appliances.

Voltmeter and Ammeter: gives the state of the battery charge by giving you readings of the volts and amps being produced.

1. McCullagh, James C. (1977) Pedal Power: in work, leisure, and transportation.. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA.

2. Congdon, R.J. (1977) Introduction to Appropriate Technology; toward a simpler life-style. Rodale Press, Emmaus, PA.

3. Hazeltine, Barrett & Bull, Christopher. (1999) Appropriate Technology; Tools, Choices, and Implications. Academic Press,.

4. CCAT Website; Russavage, Joseph; Pedal Power: How to do it yourself;

5. CCAT Website; Garcia, Yvette; Powering a Laptop Computer at CCAT.

Proposed Budget

Budget for Pedal powered generator modeled from

  • no battery in design & bike not in budget
Quantity Materials Source Cost $ Total
1 bicycle anyone, not permanent $0 $0
1 generator ebay $50 $50
1 Training stand ebay $75 $75
1 Generator Rubber Drive roller 1/2 inch shaft on-line? Search localy $22 $22
1 800 watt Inverter $42 $42
1 threaded bar hardware store $2 $4
1 screw hardware store $3 $3
3 Wing Nut hardware store $3 $3
4 Flat washers hardware store $4 $4
3 Nuts hardware store $3 $3
4" heat shrink hardware store $9 $9
1 12" Square Bar hardware store $5 $5
2 1/4" Carriage Bolt 4" long hardware store $2 $2
2 3/8 " Springs hardware store $3 $3
1 roll soler hardware store $10 $10

TOTAL = $235

Tools needed Status
drill have
drill bits have
hack saw need (CCAT/friends)
wrenches need (CCAT/friends)
wire striper need (CCAT/friends)
heat gun need (CCAT/friends)
Soder iron need (CCAT/friends)
Wire Crimper need (CCAT/friends)

Engr305 Appropriate Technology page in progress
This page is a project in progress by students in Engr305 Appropriate Technology. Please do not make edits unless you are a member of the team working on this page, but feel free to make comments on the discussion page. Check back for the finished version on May 15, 2008.