Burn Calories for Electricity

With the 2008 Olympics going on, we are bombarded with images of rippling muscles pushed to their limit by men and women in peak physical condition. Most of these champions spend hours a day at the gym, burning up to 5000 calories during a workout. Most people have had a gym membership at one time or another, in the hopes of staying fit by exercising at least three times a day. This idea, isn’t a novel one; but why waste all this energy, just sweating it out, rather than using it to generate electricity?

A California Fitness health club in Hong Kong, has already developed a gym with 13 machines that generate 300 watts when they are all in use. That’s enough to run three of the massive 30 inch TV screens looming above the machines. This project started when Doug Woodring, environmental entrepreneur, decided it was time to take advantage of all the potential energy that walked through the gym doors on a daily basis. Steve Clinefelter, president of California Fitness, jumped on the idea.

According to Clinefelter (quoted by inhabitat), “One person has the ability of producing 50watts of electricity per hour when exercising at a moderate pace… If a person spends one hour per day running on the machine, he/she could generate 18.2 kilowatts of electricity and prevent 4,380 liters of CO2 released per year.” To link to original article with video click here.

Parasitic generators are the newest line of devices meant to inadvertently capture human energy. The most ambitious of these projects involves a nightclub with a dance floor that generates an electric current when masses of people bounce around on top of it. The crystals inside the floor generate a current when compressed and power the lights that flash up at the happy dancers doing all the work.

A smaller scale generator in backpack form is currently being developed by Larry Rome, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. These backpacks generate power from the vibrations of the wearer’s footsteps, and may eventually power a small fridge, or relieve soldiers from needing to carry so many batteries in their already, cumbersome packs.

Many parents would love the idea of tv powered by an elliptical machine or stationary bike. You would have to work out to watch your favorite shows and that’s definitely better than sitting on the couch with a craning neck to watch the tv over the ever expanding belly. Just try not to compare yourself to a hamster in a wheel.

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