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Power Science

Using Gym Rats' Body Power to Generate Electricity 338

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the other-biodiesel-generators dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "A Hong Kong health club is hoping that a car battery, some StairMasters and dozens of gym rats can help ease the world's energy problems. It is just one of a wave of projects that are trying to tap the power of the human body, the Wall Street Journal reports. The article explains the impetus behind the project: 'The human power project at California Fitness was set in motion by Doug Woodring, a 41-year-old extreme-sports fanatic and renewable-energy entrepreneur, who pitched the experiment to the gym's management last May. "I've trained my whole life, and many megawatts have been wasted," says Mr. Woodring, who has worked out at the Hong Kong gym for years. "I wanted to do something with all that sweat."'"
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Using Gym Rats' Body Power to Generate Electricity

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  • ...that will collect the energy generated by all the jiggling rings of fat you see on most people these days?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:30AM (#18205036)
      Fat is stored energy. What you need to do is pay them for liposuction, like buying oil drilling rights.
      it would give a whole new meaning to the phrase "fat farm".
      • by jambox (1015589) on Friday March 02, 2007 @09:42AM (#18205984)
        Just wait for them to have a heart attack, then attach a turbine to the crematorium... Come on, it's better than coal!
      • by tuxette (731067) *
        No, no, no, you don't get it. From TFA:

        Larry Rome, a biology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, recently launched a company called Lightning Packs that aims to sell backpacks that generate electricity from the jiggling motion of walking. In a recent test, his prototype was able to produce about 15 watts of power from the up-and-down motion of the pack.

        I was thinking something along the same lines, though harnessing energy from the up-and-down motion of fat bellies, fat asses, thunder thighs, etc..
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mappemonde (1052784)
      mmm...does this sound kind of like a Matrix (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0133093/) type beginning to power generation? First we go with treadmills and cycle bikes and then move on to people who are undesirable (prisons, homeless, etc) and then further the trend... Don't like it.
    • by Afecks (899057) on Friday March 02, 2007 @12:57PM (#18208032)
      Fat people get it the worst. No other group of people are so easily attacked and mocked. Most people wouldn't dare say "look how black that guy is!" for fear of being labeled a racist. However, very few of the same people would have any problem saying "look how fat that guy is!". Calling someone a nigger, faggot or fatass are all in the same group of insults. They are insults designed to hurt someone by mocking their differences. Yet somehow we all let that last one just slide by.

      We accept each others differences when it comes to race, religion, sexuality but since being fat is "unhealthy" then it's unacceptable. I call bullshit on that. There are no special exceptions when it comes to bigotry.

      But I'm not telling anyone what to do, just making an observation.
  • by FredDC (1048502) on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:28AM (#18205020)
    ... to see the guy on the threadmill yelling at the guy on the stairmaster to "go faster!"
    • Are you working on the assumption that treadmills require electricity? Because I can tell you from experience that they do not. My grandparents had an antique treadmill that still worked 10 years ago (I have no idea what happened to it after they died), and there was no electricity involved.

      If your merely stating that treadmills are not as efficient at generating electricity (or if there is some joke I'm just not getting, which is quite possible), then I won't disagree with you on that one.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by ettlz (639203)
        GP said "threadmill". I interpret this to mean one of those new-fangled multi-threaded SPARC processors from Sun; then again, I hear they're supposed to be very energy-efficient, so I guess the guy yelling faster must be either just greedy or running Vista under emulation.
  • Ahnald was already doing this in the 1970s. In his excellent movie _Hercules in New York_ [imdb.com], he threw a lightning bolt in one scene. I believe he wasn't wearing a shirt. I also believe the lightning bolt was actually a grounding rod, bent into a jagged, vaguely lightning bolt shape. See, you have shirtless bodybuilder, lightning bolts, and grounding rods. Truly Ahnald was a man ahead of his time.

    Ahnald, you've come a long way...baby.
  • by Reverse Gear (891207) * on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:31AM (#18205040) Homepage
    The article doesn't hide this either, but there is really very little real energy to be won in this way, I don't really get what Mr. Woodring says about megawatts being wasted though, no human is able to generate that much electrical power, maybe he refers to megawatthours which he might be right about, but it would have been generated over the span of many years.

    I think it would be more efficient if the people who go to the gym instead would just put on a pair of running shoes and would not have to exercise in a room that had not to be lit and heated for the purpose of them having a place to exercise.

    I guess the best thing about this is that it might raise some people's awareness of how much energy different electrical devices use during the day and might help them remember to shut them off and think of energy efficiency when they buy new equipment.

    The good thing about the way the human body works is not how much energy we use or generate, our biggest strength in this is the precise and versatile we can use our bodies and the energy we generate from the our food intake.
    For example I bet you can save a lot more energy and pollution from exercising by getting wood for heating than you would ever be able to make by exercising a stair machine or spinning device.
    • by Ihlosi (895663) on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:37AM (#18205068)
      I guess the best thing about this is that it might raise some people's awareness of how much energy different electrical devices use during the day and might help them remember to shut them off and think of energy efficiency when they buy new equipment.



      Yes. Try generating 200W of electrical power with your body, and see how long you can keep it up.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        I see what you and the other fellow are saying. I remember that in Expo 86, there was a claptraption, where people would sit on stationary bikes, and pedal away, to light up some light bulbs. It took much effort. I'm sure that the system could have been made more efficient with flourescent lamps, and better gearing.

        I do have to wonder, though, wouldn't the electrical savings eventually pay for the generators? Or maybe they could come up with some kind of system to turn a fan, so that there won't be a need f
        • by Eivind (15695) <eivindorama@gmail.com> on Friday March 02, 2007 @07:19AM (#18205240) Homepage
          Possibly, but doubtful. As stated, if the exersize-bikes where in use for 10 hours/day, they'd pay back the investment in 82 years, but since they probably get replaced within 5 years anyway, that's never going to happen.

          It's much easier to *save* energy than to *create* it.

          Replacing 10 of the ligth-bulbs in the gym with modern low-energy ones would've had a larger effect on energy-savings, and would've costed less than the $15.000 this cost.

          It's a gimmick, nothing more.

      • by syphax (189065)

        Lance Armstrong can crank out around 300W for 100 miles or so, and 600+ when he puts the hurt on.

        When I'm in decent shape, I can hold onto 200W for awhile (either on bike or rowing ergometer), but not long enough to generate 1 kWh in a sitting.

        At minimum wage, 1 kWh generated by a human (@ 200W/hour) would cost $25+. Even in low-wage companies this is not cost-competitive. At all.

        Human-generated power is a great educational tool, but absolutely trivial as an energy source.
    • If all the exercise machines were in use 10 hours a day for a year, the gym could generate roughly $183 worth of electricity. At that rate, it would take about 82 years to pay off the initial $15,000 investment.

      Enviu, a Dutch environmental group, is building a nightclub in Rotterdam that will have a dance floor that converts vibrations from all those feet into electricity. One potential design for the floor involves piezoelectric crystals, which generate a small electric current when compressed. But Enviu'

    • by DrSkwid (118965)
      Only 20% of the body's energy is derived from food.
      We don't respirate all that oxygen for nothing !
    • The point isn't in the energy *WON* - it's in the energy *NOT USED*. I don't know if you've ever hooked a kill-a-watt (current measuring device) to a treadmill, but those suckers suck powah! Mine rated between 12 and 15a, and has actually tripped its shared 15a outlet when I get going really fast on it(well, at least fast for me - about 8-9 mph).

      If you do distance as I do, that's a decent amount of power not used on the grid if my energy is going 100% into making the thing work, instead of the grid fee
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by karnal (22275)
        I use a Precor at the local Y - it seems as if their line of exercise devices (at least the non-impact ones) have been cord-free for quite some time. It's not a treadmill (which will always take power unless you really want odd resistance) but it's self contained and might be easier on your joints over time...
    • by LarsWestergren (9033) on Friday March 02, 2007 @07:35AM (#18205318) Homepage Journal
      maybe he refers to megawatthours which he might be right about, but it would have been generated over the span of many years.

      For one person yes, but if you have hundred or thousands of customers per day pedalling/rowing/stairstepping, it adds upp quickly

      I think it would be more efficient if the people who go to the gym instead would just put on a pair of running shoes and would not have to exercise in a room that had not to be lit and heated for the purpose of them having a place to exercise.

      a) People in big cities rarely have good places outdoors to run. b) If it is winter and snowy, it can be difficult to excercise outside too. c) Some people prefer to build muscles over doing cardiovascular excercise. d) Heating and lighting a gym isn't more wasteful than heating and lightning any other room.

      I guess the best thing about this is that it might raise some people's awareness of how much energy different electrical devices use during the day and might help them remember to shut them off and think of energy efficiency when they buy new equipment. The good thing about the way the human body works is not how much energy we use or generate, our biggest strength in this is the precise and versatile we can use our bodies and the energy we generate from the our food intake. For example I bet you can save a lot more energy and pollution from exercising by getting wood for heating than you would ever be able to make by exercising a stair machine or spinning device.

      Now these points I agree with 100%. :)
    • by PDAllen (709106)
      I'm fairly physically fit - so I can generate 320W of mechanical energy for an hour on a bike. Which is about 1p worth of electricity; less than is used to provide light, music and a hot shower afterwards. And a typical (fat, unfit) person would not be able to generate half that. There are some practical ways to generate electricity that don't involve fossil fuels (nuclear, hydro, geothermal, wind in some places, solar in some places), but this is not one of them.
    • by wall0159 (881759)
      Even more so, it amazes me how many people go to a gym and then get back in their car. If they walked/cycled, they could burn those calories in a much more useful way!
      • by Aladrin (926209) on Friday March 02, 2007 @08:18AM (#18205544)
        Maybe it's about efficiency. If they spare time, they might choose to do just that. For the rest of us (who have NO spare time) it's about getting the most efficient exercise in the time we have.
        • by Smidge204 (605297)
          Let's check the math on that...

          10 minute drive to the gym (at an average fo 30MPH, 5 miles)

          1 or 2 hours in the gym.

          10 minute drive back.

          So 80 - 140 minutes total. At a brisk 5MPH jog, you can get to the gym and back on foot in 120 minutes and on bike (~8MPH) in 75 minutes. You get a better quality workout, pay no gym fees, and it doesn't cost you anything in gas for your car.

          And this doesn't count the 10 minutes or so most people spend driving aroung the lot, looking for a parking space that's closest to th
          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            So 80 - 140 minutes total. At a brisk 5MPH jog, you can get to the gym and back on foot in 120 minutes and on bike (~8MPH) in 75 minutes. You get a better quality workout, pay no gym fees, and it doesn't cost you anything in gas for your car.

            No, you get a lower-quality workout. Jogging does little to build muscle, it's mostly about fitness and endurance, two things which can be developed in a gym without blowing out your knees.

            Running/Jogging is actually horribly hard on the human body, and if you love yo

            • by scotch (102596)
              Done right, running is excellent for your body. The problem is that people go out and start running with poor style or too much on hard concrete after 20 years of not running at all. The human body is designed to run. Running is very good at maintaining and building bone strength in adults. Running is a great way to lose weight and maintain a trim physique. You don't see serious runners with love handles or beer bellies. You can run anywhere, you need very little equipment, no expensive facilities re
              • by drinkypoo (153816)

                The human body is designed to run.

                Sure, just like a cat's body is designed to fall 100 feet and still survive. It doesn't mean it's a good idea for cats to be jumping off of buildings.

                The human body is designed first and foremost to walk. We're far better at that than anything else. We're bad at sitting, at standing still, and even pretty bad at lying down. But we're excellent at walking.

                Running is pushing that ability. It's necessary and we are designed to do it for short stints, but we're not really me

          • by cayenne8 (626475)
            "10 minute drive to the gym (at an average fo 30MPH, 5 miles)"

            I don't know of many people that live within 5 miles of ANYWHERE they usually need to go...much less the gym.

            Not to mention, when I leave the gym...I'm exhausted...I do good to get in the car, drive home and collapse for awhile before having to get up and cook dinner...

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by yarbo (626329)
            I usually walk to the gym from work, but I do work out one day on the weekend. I drive to the gym. I'd estimate it's a 30 minute walk, 10 minute drive.
            I don't care about the calories I could have burned, they're insignificant compared to the calories I burn from deadlifting and squatting. All it's going to do is keep me away from my post workout protein shake and boost my cortisol levels. Deadlifting is far better for burning energy than jogging. If I wanted to run, I'd do some 40 meter sprints in m
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by blahtree (55190)
              I'm afraid you've been mislead. Take a look at www.caloriesperhour.com and do some calculations based on your weight. Jogging will come out on top.

              Yes, you can make the argument that powerlifting builds muscle mass and thus burns more calories at rest. Jogging raises your metabolism and essentially does the same thing.

              The number of calories burned is somewhat irrelevant though. For optimum health, you need both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. Balance is good.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by CagedBear (902435)

      I bet you can save a lot more energy and pollution from exercising by getting wood

      I grew up in a house that had no heat except for wood. We cut up tree tops left behind by loggers and dropped any trees that didn't look healthy or were in a cluster.

      It was good excercise, but also incredibly dangerous and we created pollution in the process. Chainsaws, tractor, log splitter, etc. I can't imagine cutting wood without these machines. At least not for the big farm house we lived in. I guess that's why th

    • by Tim C (15259) on Friday March 02, 2007 @08:07AM (#18205476)
      I think it would be more efficient if the people who go to the gym instead would just put on a pair of running shoes and would not have to exercise in a room that had not to be lit and heated for the purpose of them having a place to exercise.

      While that's true, running isn't ever going to replace gyms. Two immediate reasons are that running does little or nothing for building up muscle bulk, and it's a high impact exercise (as opposed to something like swimming or cycling, where you're not pounding the pavement the whole time).
    • by Ed Avis (5917)
      Five or six people on exercise bicycles could generate a megawatt and if they're fit could keep going for an hour.

      One beneficial effect might be, as you say, to raise awareness of energy. It's confusing and annoying that there are many different units for the same thing: power measured in watts or in horsepower, energy measured in joules, calories (and remember the confusion between calories and kilocalories), kilowatt hours, British thermal units and other nonsense.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dr_Barnowl (709838)

        Five or six people on exercise bicycles could generate a megawatt

        To put this in perspective, this is like saying each person is outputting sufficient energy to boil 166 jug kettles simultaneously.

        Please, think about your numbers before you post them. I think you mean a kilowatt. These people would be hotter than the Human Torch, people would be running, screaming, their lycra pants melting from their roasting flesh.

        While I agree that the wasted energy which is ordinarily all just converted into heat in the

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)
      Right. At the local science center, I found you have to pedal pretty damn hard just to power one light bulb.

      There's no way that he's getting megawatts out of a gym, in any reasonable scope of time.

      Most stationary bikes use human power to turn themselves on, which is nice, I guess, but the physics of the situation make his pipe dream unrealistic.
    • The article doesn't hide this either, but there is really very little real energy to be won in this way ...

      Yeah, you're right, but at the same time, I don't really see the harm in trying to do something with the energy that people dump into, say, a flywheel when riding a stationary bike. Currently it just spins around to produce resistance, so why not have it turn a little generator? Bring your rechargable batteries with you to the gym, plug them in, and walk out with them recharged! I agree that it ce
      • Of course, if you use the output of the exercise to RUN the air conditioning system.....

        Heat pumps are far over-unity for the heat they move vs the energy they are fed. This neatly counteracts the low efficiency of generating heat through human effort.

        Storing the energy in batteries would be a very minor way of moving heat out of the gym compared to powering the aircon.
        • Of course, if you use the output of the exercise to RUN the air conditioning system..... Heat pumps are far over-unity for the heat they move vs the energy they are fed.

          Excellent point! I don't have anything to add, I just wanted to say that.
    • So what you're saying is that this article is basically: The wheel is spinning but the hamster is dead- right?
    • by Ogive17 (691899)

      I think it would be more efficient if the people who go to the gym instead would just put on a pair of running shoes and would not have to exercise in a room that had not to be lit and heated for the purpose of them having a place to exercise.

      Ever live in a colder climate and suffer from asthma? Going running just isn't going to work here for at least 3 months of the year. Plus my knees/ankles took such a beating from playing soccer for 15 years that I need low impact workouts. I'll ride my bike 10-15 miles/night during the summer, but I can't do that when it's cold. Plus the gym has a nice varity of equipment to give me a full body workout.

  • More like (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Zouden (232738) on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:32AM (#18205042)
    It is just one of a wave of projects that are trying to tap the power of the human body

    I'd say it's just one of a wave of projects that are trying to tap the venture capital being thrown at "environmental-yet-supposedly-profitable" schemes.
  • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:34AM (#18205052) Homepage
    make a gym sweat cologne. now you can tell people you just got back from the gym even if you haven't!
  • by SQL Error (16383) on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:59AM (#18205154)

    "I've trained my whole life, and many megawatts have been wasted," says Mr. Woodring, who has worked out at the Hong Kong gym for years.
    Spending one of those years in science class might not have been a bad idea.
  • by scenestar (828656) on Friday March 02, 2007 @06:59AM (#18205156) Homepage Journal
    What if they started "paying" (like 1 buck per somethingsomething) people for producing energy. they could store and resell it and some people would have a psychological incentive to excersise.
    • What if they started "paying" (like 1 buck per somethingsomething) people for producing energy. they could store and resell it and some people would have a psychological incentive to excersise.

      I read once that prisons a couple of centuries ago would sell the energy generated by people doing "hard labour". The idea was that you would have to walk on something like a stairmaster for much of the day, which turns a shaft, which goes through the wall of the prison into the mill next door and does real work.

    • by animaal (183055)
      Yep, except it takes a *lot* of exercise to produce a dollar worth of energy.
    • They do, it's called feeding back into the grid, and you get paid per kilowatt-hour. It's also not very practical unless you happen to have surplus power being generated that would othewise go to waste. Otherwise, it's a losing proposition.
    • by evilviper (135110)

      What if they started "paying" (like 1 buck per somethingsomething) people for producing energy.

      Humans can sustain about 1/10th horsepower. At that, you'd have to work out for 12+ hours, non-stop, to make maybe 2 cents worth of electricity.

      That's with no mention of efficiency, maintenance, infrastructure, etc.

      I don't think 1/20th of a cent per hour you exercise on a stationary bicycle is going to be much motivation to people... especially when a gym membership is $20+ per month to start with.

      It's probably

  • How about (Score:3, Interesting)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday March 02, 2007 @07:02AM (#18205166) Homepage Journal
    putting a generator on a bicycle that is capable of say charging a cell phone or a laptop battery. Perfect for people such as myself who commute by bicycle anyway. Would that be feasible? How much do you think it would cost to retrofit a bike to do that?
    • by DrSkwid (118965)
      It's called a dynamo, they've been around for maybe 50 years or more.

    • How much does one of those generators cost that bolts to the bike to generate power a light? The problem would be generating enough current consistently to make it worth while (which isn't going to happen). You're better off paying a couple bucks and charging a cellphone or laptop via a solar panel.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I'd agree, I cycle a bike everyday and wouldn't put a dynamo on it. See, the difference with a dynamo on your bike is that you're not tapping energy that would otherwise be wasted, you're sapping the energy that should be going towards moving you between A & B. Sticking a dynamo on an excercise bike may not be such a bad idea, but slowing yourself down to squeeze a few joules into your phone is just silly.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by drinkypoo (153816)

          See, the difference with a dynamo on your bike is that you're not tapping energy that would otherwise be wasted, you're sapping the energy that should be going towards moving you between A & B.

          So toggle charging by the dynamo based on a tilt switch and a delay. Bike goes downhill for more than a couple seconds, start charging. Bike goes uphill for more than a second, stop charging.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      putting a generator on a bicycle that is capable of say charging a cell phone or a laptop battery. Perfect for people such as myself who commute by bicycle anyway. Would that be feasible? How much do you think it would cost to retrofit a bike to do that?

      You can still get generators for running lights at night, probably not much different from the one I had when I was very young, back in the 1970's.

      I have hydraulic disks on my commuting bike. Sometimes I want to just drag the brake slightly if I am waiting

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MightyYar (622222)
      Have you ever used those lights on the bike which use a little generator that goes down on the wheel?

      In my experience, quite a bit of resistance is added to my peddling, and that's just to light up a puny bike headlight!
  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Friday March 02, 2007 @07:20AM (#18205250) Homepage
    What the world is coming to?
  • by Spacezilla (972723) on Friday March 02, 2007 @07:52AM (#18205396)
    Morpheus: What is the Matrix? Control. The Matrix is a computer-generated dream world built to keep you under control in order to change a mouse into this.
    [holds up a Duracell battery]
    Mickey Mouse:: No, I don't believe it. It's not possible!
    Morpheus:: I didn't say it would be easy, Mickey. I just said it would be the truth.
  • "I've trained my whole life, and many megawatts have been wasted," says Mr. Woodring

    Cranking out "many megawatts" (which is energy per unit time) is beyond extreme sports - he's better than a frickin' Diesel generator! I want to be on his team!
  • Let's harness the energy generated by having sex. Or even better, the energy wasted by my pathetic attempts to get laid in the first place, which there is sadly a lot more of.
  • Fallout (Score:2, Informative)

    by Ostsol (960323)
    Wasn't this an easter egg in Fallout? There was a bonus area that randomly appeared. It was a building where several people inside were running on treadmills, generating power. . .
  • by rohar (253766) * <bob.rohatensky@sasktel.net> on Friday March 02, 2007 @09:05AM (#18205784) Homepage Journal
    If you feeling a bit out of shape and bored of sitting behind a desk, you can come and help me build some massive towers out of stone blocks [energytower.org]. If the convection towers were built from stone, it will take some up-front human labor, but in the end you can say you put together part of a megawatt renewable power station that in the worst case will leave people wondering what we were up to a few centuries from now like we do about Stonehenge [wikipedia.org].
  • The professor was able to generate electricity with a couple of coconuts and a stationary bike, how hard could this be?
  • by plzdontspamme (1055052) on Friday March 02, 2007 @09:42AM (#18205980) Homepage
    I've been riding a bike for a living for the past 16 years, frequently hauling loads of 600 lbs or more. IMHO, human power has not been given the serious consideration it deserves. There are plenty of applications where human power could be usefully applied. For instance, there are lots of little devices, like LED task lights, digital cameras, etc., powered by 2-4 AAA batteries. A person riding on a stationary bike could easily charge four 1000 mAh batteries like these in a half-hour workout. As electronic appliances get smaller and more efficient, the number of devices that can be practically powered by human power is only going to increase. Inkjet printers, scanners, and laptops are already within the capability of being powered by a fit person. While the human body can't practically generate enough energy to do tasks that require significant amounts of heat (e.g., cooking), it is very effective at producing enough heat to keep itself warm. People often wonder how I can stand doing my job outside when the temperature is well below zero and I'm only wearing a few light layers of clothing. They forget that the human body is only about 25% efficient at converting energy to work, so hauling a heavy load produces sufficient heat to keep me comfortable.
  • by necro81 (917438) on Friday March 02, 2007 @01:13PM (#18208222) Journal
    The article describes the system as siphoning off excess power from the generators already built into the equipment to run the exercise computers. It is like the dynamo on a bicycle - a parasitic power sink. They are only capturing a small fraction of the available power. The majority of the power the human inputs into the gym equipment still goes into waste heat production, same as the unmodified equipment.

    A much better way to capture human power would be to scrap the power sink (the friction mechanism, for instance) and replace it with a real electrical generator, not just some dynamo rated for a couple of watts. With the proper power electronics, you can adjust the mechanical resistance that the human feels by adjusting the electrical power drawn from the generator. This would be similar to how regenerative braking works in hybrid cars. The braking action can be soft or hard, depending on the pedal input, and works by modulating the power drawn out of the generator and into the battery bank. Like a hybrid car, the mechanical resistance (i.e., traditional brakes) becomes almost superfluous.

    This system would allow you to capture far more of the human power and convert it to electricity. With a well-chosen generator and well-designed power electronics, the conversion efficiency can be over 75%. For a human producting 100 W on a stationary bike (a decent workout), that would be 75 W of electricity.

    This idea does, however, require a more substantial redesign or retrofit of the existing equipment, designed into the equipment and the gym from the beginning. As a result, I think it is unlikely to come about anytime soon. It would be a fun home project, however. Anyone know if Make Magazine has done something with this?

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