Thursday, September 2, 2010

Bike Machines -- Power from the People

Orange-wheeled bicycleI recently found myself wondering whether it was realistic to use bicycles to run appliances or lights. Growing up, I had heard my dad (a long-time ham radio operator) tell about field days when he and his fellow hams would run their radios with power generated using a stationary bike.

But how much power is that? And how many calories does a person burn creating that energy?

Lo and behold, today BoingBoing included a post about Maya Pedal, a Guatemalen organization that rebuilds bikes to power a variety of essential machines.

Blue and yellow barrel on its side, attached to a bikeThe orange bike above pumps water, using a rope. It can lift water at five to 10 gallons a minute at depths up to 30 meters. According to the site, a comparable electric pump can only pump to 12 meters deep. They also have a mobile version of the water pump.

The machine at right is a washing machine. Other machines mill grain, saw wood, depulp coffee beans, and blend drinks and food (among a number of other things).

Wow. So inspirational! The machines that are past the prototype stage all include excellent "how to make it yourself" fact sheets, too!

No comments: