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sabianq
2008-Jun-23, 12:51 PM
NO such thing as free energy?
I completely disagree.
With the price of energy going up, I thought it would be a fun idea to start a brain storming thread based on ideas that would explore the world of free energy and may even spark ideas to help our country (the USA) and us move toward energy independence.

Any wacky ideas ranging from solar to wind to portable hydrodynamic should be welcome. If I may, the only rule would be that all ideas conform to the laws of thermo dynamics, no zeropoint, perpetual motion, or water fueled engines allowed (unless you actually have a model that we all can build and verify using parts found around the home)

I have many ideas, so of course, I will start.

__________________________________________________ ________________________________


A while back, during the energy crunch when Enron was running the show, I had the idea to solve (the whole energy crisis).

I would build gyms where all of the stationary bikes, tread mills, eliptical riders, row machines, basically any piece of equipment that provides resistance, will have a generator built into it and anytime that piece of equipment get used, it will generate actual power. that power should then be stored and rectified and sent back into the power grid.

I had even envisioned a law passed that would mandate all public gyms in America be retrofit in this way. if enough people use the gym the gym could power itself and even provide excess power.

http://crossroads.journalismcentre.com/images/Expats_columns/spinning/suelispinning.jpg

LotusExcelle
2008-Jun-23, 12:53 PM
It would take more power than those people could pedal just to run the lights/heat/computers in most gyms. Humans produce very little power, in fact.

Larry Jacks
2008-Jun-23, 01:20 PM
A champion cyclist can maintain a power output of a few hundred watts for extended periods. Of course, none of the people in that picture are anywhere near being champion cyclists. Still, if they each produced about 50-100 watts, you'd end up with something powerful enough to operate a lot of lights. Better to harness that power than letting it go as waste heat.

LotusExcelle
2008-Jun-23, 01:25 PM
Not true. or not really accurate, at least. An average human could not possibly generate enough power to make it worth the effort. You couldn't power your computer for very long and you certainly couldn't power a series of fluorescent tubes.

You could generate a reasonable amount but only for a short period of time.

sabianq
2008-Jun-23, 01:59 PM
It would take more power than those people could pedal just to run the lights/heat/computers in most gyms. Humans produce very little power, in fact.


Really? lets do the math..

http://www.vitaminstuff.com/notes/health-fitness/notes-health-fitness-3.html

According to a recent survey (cited in a 2006 BBC News online article), only twelve percent of the general population possess a gym or fitness club membership

I will take that as a number to start with and extrapolate based on population numbers in the USA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographics_of_the_United_States

"Based on a population clock maintained by the U.S. Census Bureau, the current U.S. population, as of 1:36 GMT (EST+5) June 21, 2008 is 304,394,060."
we can not take 12% of this number because children dont go to gyms, so lets use this number:
"2064 years: 60.1% (male 89,881,041; female 90,813,578)"

so lets say 60% of 300,000,000 is roughly 180,000,000

and if only 12% of those people use the gym that works out to 21,600,000 people.

lets say that only half of them use the stationary bikes and other aerobic equipment for 30 min a day, every day.

I am confident to say that at least 10,800,000 people in the united states use a stationary bike or other piece of equipment in a gym every day for 30 min.

so what does that add up to in watt hours?

well, This guy
http://www.los-gatos.ca.us/davidbu/pedgen/pppm_max_power.html

is 56 and he can sustain 110 watts with a "peak output reached was 265 Watts"

lets be conservative here, assuming the equipment is state of the art and as efficient as possible, using Watt-hours = power x time and the average person should be able to produce 100 watts continuous. if they spend 30 min riding, that is equal to 50 watt hours per person.

you would need 20 people to produce a KW hour.

sabianq
2008-Jun-23, 02:05 PM
so a 30 min spinning class with 20 people can produce 1000 watts. if a gym can do this all day, a typical gym can produce 16 KW every day just from spinning classes
that does not include the tread mills, ellipticals, row machines or any other equipment attached to the "power grid"

LotusExcelle
2008-Jun-23, 02:09 PM
And you do what with this power? Store it or use it instantly? Where do you use it? On-site? Assuming a conservative amount of power loss your 20-human kwh disappears pretty quickly and again - and this is my main point - is not worth the effort of designing a human-powered energy infrastructure. We do not produce enough power to make such a venture worth it. Equipment costs alone would win the argument but I know that over time those would be covered... like wind energy.

And how many people can produce peak output for half an hour straight? What I've read the average person can generate 75 watts in an hour. Trained cyclists/athletes can clearly make more but "average" is where we are headed. And at that rate it just isn't viable.

Warren Platts
2008-Jun-23, 02:25 PM
so a 30 min spinning class with 20 people can produce 1000 watts. if a gym can do this all day, a typical gym can produce 16 KW every day just from spinning classes
that does not include the tread mills, ellipticals, row machines or any other equipment attached to the "power grid"
So if they kept the cycles going 24-7, they could generate 48/kWh's per day, or about 1440 kWh's per month; so at 7 cents per kWh, the gym would save about $100 per month on their power bill.


And you do what with this power? Store it or use it instantly? Where do you use it? On-site? Assuming a conservative amount of power loss your 20-human kwh disappears pretty quickly and again - and this is my main point - is not worth the effort of designing a human-powered energy infrastructure. We do not produce enough power to make such a venture worth it. Equipment costs alone would win the argument but I know that over time those would be covered... like wind energy.
The power would just be fed back into the grid. If they got going fast enough, it would literally make the electric meter wheel run backwards. The gym has to purchase new bikes anyway, so the startup cost will be covered anyway. Granted, it's more of a gimmick than a substantial source of new power, but every little bit helps.

sabianq
2008-Jun-23, 02:26 PM
And you do what with this power? Store it or use it instantly? Where do you use it? On-site? Assuming a conservative amount of power loss your 20-human kwh disappears pretty quickly and again - and this is my main point - is not worth the effort of designing a human-powered energy infrastructure. We do not produce enough power to make such a venture worth it. Equipment costs alone would win the argument but I know that over time those would be covered... like wind energy.

And how many people can produce peak output for half an hour straight? What I've read the average person can generate 75 watts in an hour. Trained cyclists/athletes can clearly make more but "average" is where we are headed. And at that rate it just isn't viable.

haha
you're funny..
but my point was never to build a "human-powered energy infrastructure" I was just musing and thinking about ways to capture "some" lost energy. I know that there is never only one solution for anything. and i am well aware of the fact that this "musing" cannot actually replace any hydroelectric or coal or nuclear powerplant, and I am totally aware that this would be just a drop in the proverbial bucket when it comes to meeting energy needs for a small buisness let alone a whole country. However, when one looks at the cost of retrofitting the equipment and energy savings over time, there is actually a break even point that is not unreachable.

as for storage, there are many many different types of different ways to sell power back to the electrical companies by feeding power back to the grid.
http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/jul2006/sb20060706_167332.htm?campaign_id=search

is is not unheard of to send power back to the grid, and some states actually require the electrical company to pay you for it.

my neighbor does it with solar.

LotusExcelle
2008-Jun-23, 02:31 PM
There is a local plastics company here that sells back to the grid from a large wind turbine. My understanding is they cover their property taxes with the income.

Your idea is a noble one - and if it were cheap I would not mind running my laptop on pedal power. But I can't justify the expense of a generator to strap to my bike.

really I think the best gains we can make in this are are more efficient energy users. LED lights for example. Computers that don't waste enough heat to cook an egg. And so on. Modest gains here can be worth a plethora of other solutions (like human power).

Also I'd rather have my bike outside then locked up in a basement. Oh man i just came up with a new idea! Bike generator Virtual Reality. The harder you pedal the more she strips! Or something like that. Now THERE is a solution. (And no I'm not kidding. Sex sells.)

Click Ticker
2008-Jun-23, 02:34 PM
Let's not forget that much of the cardio equipment is plugged into the wall. Most gym treadmills have an electric motor, they don't run on a free wheel. The bikes might be different, but the steppers, treadmills and eliptical trainers use power. If memory serves, the bikes generate electricity sufficient to run their own readouts.

http://www.truefitness.com/products/commercial/product.aspx?seriesID=13&productID=35

According to this product, if you want the display to run continuously you need an external power source.

Damburger
2008-Jun-23, 03:12 PM
Humans don't efficiently turn chemical energy into mechanical energy. The reason the energy shortage that is coming will be so horrific is because of a lack of energy for agriculture, so obviously burning more calories to try and generate electricity isn't going to help at all.

Chuck
2008-Jun-23, 03:26 PM
Even if the stationary bike isn't generating much power, the people pedaling them aren't out in their cars burning gasoline. Tell them that they're generating power for an orphanage to keep them on the bikes and therefor out of their cars.

LotusExcelle
2008-Jun-23, 03:29 PM
Chuck - you are so wrong. So very very wrong. Place a Star*ucks blender if front of them. Tell that the more they pedal the more coffee they get. Its all about incentive, man. Saving kids, lets face it, is not the priority of most people that sit on treadmills in a fitness center.

sabianq
2008-Jun-23, 03:34 PM
Chuck - you are so wrong. So very very wrong. Place a Star*ucks blender if front of them. Tell that the more they pedal the more coffee they get. Its all about incentive, man. Saving kids, lets face it, is not the priority of most people that sit on treadmills in a fitness center.

the truth is funny

sabianq
2008-Jun-23, 03:35 PM
actually the universe runs on incentives. you could even say that another word for entropy is "incentive"

sabianq
2008-Jun-23, 04:19 PM
So here is another one.
although this isn't so much a way to get energy but a way to save it.

what if we never had to mow our lawns again?
never use a weed eater, or a mower. never had to mow that golf course or the local park.
how many billions of gallons of fuel would that save?

I propose that we (someone) genetically engineer a grass seed that grows to a predetermined height then stops growing.

Chuck
2008-Jun-23, 04:29 PM
The taller grass would produce more oxygen and help clean the air, too.

NEOWatcher
2008-Jun-23, 04:33 PM
...I propose that we (someone) genetically engineer a grass seed that grows to a predetermined height then stops growing.

Too late (http://www.bautforum.com/1145116-post37.html).

Click Ticker
2008-Jun-23, 04:34 PM
http://www.sunset.com/sunset/garden/article/0,20633,1054489,00.html

Replace your turf lawn with Thyme.

Kaptain K
2008-Jun-23, 10:29 PM
I never mow the grass - going on nine years now! Of course that is one of the advantages of living "out in the sticks"!

Larry Jacks
2008-Jun-24, 12:42 PM
Not true. or not really accurate, at least. An average human could not possibly generate enough power to make it worth the effort. You couldn't power your computer for very long and you certainly couldn't power a series of fluorescent tubes.

Here's a source (http://www.mayq.com/Best_european_trips/Cycling_speed_math.htm) for my assertion. What's your source for such definitive assertions (other than your anal data store)?

Power of the Rider:

A completely inexperienced rider, for long periods of time, can output 50 or 100 watts of leg power; whereas a Tour de France racer is said to be able to generate 500 watts or more of continuous power—still not up to a horse, but mighty impressive, none the less!

Experience teaches cyclists how much power they can put out on a sustained basis. Some riders may choose to use a heart rate (pulse) monitor as a supplement to their experience: during the course of a ride pulse correlates directly with power output (though not over weeks or years, as aerobic capacity may change).

20 people - each producing 50 watts for a hour - produce 1 kilowatt hour of energy. Even allowing for losses, that's enough to power quite a few lights.

Argos
2008-Jun-24, 12:58 PM
You could set up that kind of system in the penitentiaries and have the inmates do it, besides gym club goers. With 1% of the population behind bars there is a lot of power to be harnessed.

Larry Jacks
2008-Jun-24, 01:03 PM
Forcing people to do it would be slavery. Letting people do it voluntarily is a different matter. In the fitness club example, you might be able to generate enough electricity to power some lights or perhaps a fan. People tend to get hot (and smelly) while working out. A fan might keep them cooler (and blow away the stink), reducing the need for air conditioning in the summer.

sabianq
2008-Jun-24, 01:05 PM
Here's a source (http://www.mayq.com/Best_european_trips/Cycling_speed_math.htm) for my assertion. What's your source for such definitive assertions (other than your anal data store)?





Hmmm... I have concluded that you don't actually read posts. Do you?

My "anal data store" said about the same thing.


well, This guy
http://www.los-gatos.ca.us/davidbu/pedgen/pppm_max_power.html

is 56 and he can sustain 110 watts with a "peak output reached was 265 Watts"

lets be conservative here, assuming the equipment is state of the art and as efficient as possible, using Watt-hours = power x time and the average person should be able to produce 100 watts continuous. if they spend 30 min riding, that is equal to 50 watt hours per person.

you would need 20 people to produce a KW hour.

LotusExcelle
2008-Jun-24, 01:08 PM
Here's a source (http://www.mayq.com/Best_european_trips/Cycling_speed_math.htm) for my assertion. What's your source for such definitive assertions (other than your anal data store)?



I think you need to watch how you say thing before you get bounced. I was not being snippy with you and I would expect a reasonable amount if educated discourse - not a phrase as quoted above. I'm tempted not to respond but here is where my sources are. Some are higher/lower than others but most average out the same (As an example a "peak" output by a cyclist of 1600W is clearly not sustainable and I think is also off the subject of producing power for consumption)

http://www.adventuresofgreg.com/HPVMain.html

Here is a chart that I think is rather informative (about halfway down on the left). It shows the difference between an athlete's output abilities and an average person's. Note that over time your ability decreases. So you can produce more power in bursts than in a 1 hour ride.

http://www.humboldt.edu/~ccat/pedalpower/hec/hpeg/index.html

The meat of this one is the last paragraph - it gives you a good idea of the impractical side of it... how long you would have to pedal to power some simple items. i will quote another part of that text as well:
"As discussed in Pedal Power: In work, leisure, and transportation by James McCullagh (1977), tests at Oxford by Stuart Wilson on a bicycle showed that 75 watts of power is possible to be generated by an average rider at road speed in a one hour time frame. Wilson also found that at 18 mph it is possible to achieve 200 watts for short periods, while 750 watts is possible only for a second or so, under extreme load."

http://www.los-gatos.ca.us/davidbu/pedgen/stats.html

Here is a fascinating real-world chart of what this guy has done with his pedal-power. Again for small items its feasible but think about how much energy lights take and how much energy a building consumes.

Anyway the point of all this is that the power output claims in real-world are much less that what you have mentioned. I would say average is about 75W per hour - though certainly an athlete could generate more.

Anda again i ask you think about how you phrase things.

Larry Jacks
2008-Jun-24, 01:10 PM
Yes, and you can do useful work with a kilowatt hour. A compact flourescent light consumes from 6-15 watts. A single person could power several of them in direct opposition to your assertion that

You couldn't power your computer for very long and you certainly couldn't power a series of fluorescent tubes.

A 4 foot long florescent tube consumes about 40 watts. Even a piddling cyclist can produce enough power to operate one of those tubes. He/she could also power a laptop computer or a small fan. Face it, your assertions are wrong.

Ronald Brak
2008-Jun-24, 01:20 PM
China's pollution has been described as a silver lining. Because a lot of industrial infrastructure was built on the cheap a lot of it is very inefficient. Reducing these inefficiencies can cut pollution and save energy. For example heat from making concrete can be used to generate electricity, cutting pollution from the cement works and pollution from the power plant as less electricity is needed.

LotusExcelle
2008-Jun-24, 01:20 PM
I'm quite taken aback by your tone. And quite unsure why you are using it here.

Larry Jacks
2008-Jun-24, 01:26 PM
Read your own posts and see what "tone" you're projecting.

LotusExcelle
2008-Jun-24, 01:57 PM
Larry - I definitely think you misinterpreted my tone in previous messages. I know that its hard to "see" what someone is saying sometimes in text - well... often, really. I'd like to offer an olive branch in this case because I really think this is just a misunderstanding.

Back on topic does anyone remember that guy that "flew" his bike across the English Channel back in... I thin the 80's or so? I wonder if the advancement in materials between then and now might make that kind of thing easier.

Ronald Brak
2008-Jun-24, 02:09 PM
...does anyone remember that guy that "flew" his bike across the English Channel back in... I thin the 80's or so? I wonder if the advancement in materials between then and now might make that kind of thing easier.

A little, but not much I would think. But every little bit counts. Commercial airplanes have certainly improved in that time.

RalofTyr
2008-Jun-25, 07:01 AM
Why isn't every household have solar power?

naelphin
2008-Jun-25, 07:33 AM
Why isn't every household have solar power?

Because the time it'd take to recompense the initial capital expenditure is too long for most? I know that's why I don't bother.

Ronald Brak
2008-Jun-25, 09:41 AM
Why isn't every household have solar power?

Currently, once installation costs are included, solar power is more expensive than grid power. However, costs are coming down. But shopping centers, warehouses and other places with convenient flat roof space will most likely be economical places for point of use solar energy before private homes due to the lower cost of installation.

sabianq
2008-Jun-25, 11:39 AM
well, you can make the argument that everything is solar powered.

even oil is a form of stored solar power

KLIK
2008-Jun-25, 12:34 PM
Back on topic does anyone remember that guy that "flew" his bike across the English Channel back in... I thin the 80's or so? I wonder if the advancement in materials between then and now might make that kind of thing easier.


Gossamer Albatross

http://heritage.dupont.com/touchpoints/tp_1979/overview.shtml (8kb)

regards

Ilya
2008-Jun-25, 02:30 PM
In short, if a gym is full, people pedaling can just about power the gym's own lights. They will not produce enough to sell back to the grid, but it's better than nothing.

Once I saw a Navy diver pedal 800 watts; he managed to keep it up for 20 minutes. But this is very far from normal human capacity.

[Edit] I must add that human-generated energy is not free at all -- it comes from the food people eat. And if exercising forces you to eat more than you would otherwise, than there is a net energy loss. I am willing to bet that the food that diver ate that day cost more than the 0.27 kW/h he generated over 20 minutes.

Chuck
2008-Jun-25, 03:12 PM
Most Americans are going to eat too much anyway so the cost of food in generating power isn't a real expense. Also, if the exercise keeps them healthier then there will be less medical expense.

Jason
2008-Jun-25, 03:19 PM
If human power is a viable energy source then horse power should be even better, right? So do it with horses and big treadmills.

Chuck
2008-Jun-25, 03:33 PM
Horses would have to be fed. That would be expensive. Humans have to be fed as well but they have to be fed anyway so the cost of their food is not an additional expense.

Ronald Brak
2008-Jun-25, 03:33 PM
Easier to burn the hey the horses would eat to generate electricity instead.

Ilya
2008-Jun-25, 03:39 PM
I suspect you all are joking, but assuming you are not:

Horse power (and human power, for that matter) is sunlight absorbed by plants and converted to energy. Plants' overall efficiency in turning sunlight falling onto area unit of land into biomass is about 1%. Horse's efficiency in converting plant matter into energy is at most 10%, in practice lower. Hence a horse is an incedibly inefficient solar power converter, with less than 0.1% efficiency, and absurdly intense maintenance requirements.

Skip the grass and the horse, and just generate electricity with solar panels.

Ronald Brak
2008-Jun-25, 03:45 PM
We already have a handy coal thermal plant we can burn the grass in.

Chuck
2008-Jun-25, 03:50 PM
The only reason human generated power is worth any consideration is because the humans are here and have to be maintained anyway, so any energy that they produce is a bonus.

Maybe people could bring their rechargeable video game batteries to the gym and recharge them. That shouldn't take much power.