My contribution to renewable energy technology

From Facebook:

Subroto Roy wonders how much electricity could be produced inside a gym if a clever  engineer designed a generator that ran on all the tread mills, elliptical bikes, rowing machines etc powered by people…more than enough to charge everyone’s mobile phone and perhaps the lights too….

(yes, yes, a discontinuous function…)


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2 Responses to “My contribution to renewable energy technology”

  1. doomgloom Says:

    A typical adult male human consumes about 3,000 kilocalories a day = 12.6 million Joules or 12.6 million Watt-seconds = 3.5 kilowatt hours / 24 hours = 146 watts, Only a small fraction could be captured by a treadmill or similar device, so it would be ludicrous to think this a means of generating significant power. People need to eat, cook, clean, sleep, work, bathe, study, agitate, be responsible citizens, etc. After all that is deducted, maybe the average adult male, in perfect health and in the prime of his youth, who is a real blue-collar human being, not a yuppie, could spend enough time on a very efficient treadmill to generate, on average, 120 watts for one hour = 5 watts all day long, or 0.12kwh per day. Enough to power the cell phone, but not the transmission towers or switches, or even the factories that manufacture cell phones and batteries! A yuppie body-builder could spend more time and generate more power (and also eat more), but only because he has servants to clean and cook for him. But you’d need a team of 50 well-fed, well cared-for and well-bred horses for each person to generate enough power on a treadmill to provide the world with a modern standard of living (need 1000 Watts of electricity all day per person, plus about 4 times that much in industrial process heat or combustible fuels for engines).
    And we do want a modern standard of living, because without that, it is impossible to keep disease and famine away with nearly 7 billion people on this planet! Thus, any talk about “green energy” instead of nuclear power is talk about how many people are going to perish!

  2. drsubrotoroy Says:

    My thanks to my pessimistic anonymous commentator for the calculations. I agree for the most part. My suggestion was tongue-in-cheek — though yes, walk into any gym anywhere and you might see all that yuppie perspiration going to waste. The machinery that needs to be invented would simply harness it to charge cell-phones and perhaps even the lights or car-batteries… of course it would be a mere gimmick in this age of gimmickry… for gyms to claim they were “green”.


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