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bike powered appliances or other applications

This topic contains 21 replies, has 14 voices, and was last updated by  Pierce 1 yr.

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helen s

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Jan 1 2013 at 5:09pm #

I sometimes see a bicycle powered blender around town. Does anyone know who owns this? Does anyone else have any bicycle powered appliances or other interesting bicycle applications besides transportation?

I may have further questions along these lines in the near future- stay tuned!


helen s

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Jan 1 2013 at 6:48pm #

Sorry about the double post.


rice rocket

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Jan 1 2013 at 9:29pm #

I saw the guys at ZeroFossil use it when they did the steel mill tour last summer, I’m not sure if they own it?


Pseudacris

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Jan 1 2013 at 10:39pm #

I saw a bike-powered knife/scissor sharpener in Mexico City — a DIY street vendor. There’s also this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohANFo2nE3Q

paging erok ….

[edit] I’ve also seen bike-powered tofu processing but I forget where…probably Humboldt County.


jonawebb

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Jan 1 2013 at 10:54pm #

Is there anything more stupid? Bicycle-powered appliances (in areas with reliable electricity) replace coal power with human power, which is in turn powered by nitrogen fixation which is driven by fossil fuel. So you end up with a much less efficient way to convert fossil fuel into appliance motion, while making whoever is doing it feel all green inside.


Pseudacris

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Jan 1 2013 at 10:59pm #

I think the Maya Pedal stuff is pretty great.

I don’t think people who normally grind corn by hand are too worried about feeling green inside…


Anonymous

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Jan 1 2013 at 11:06pm #

Not getting involved in a debate on efficiency but that picture is super cool Psueda.


Pseudacris

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Jan 1 2013 at 11:08pm #

Linked from http://www.mayapedal.org/


jonawebb

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Jan 1 2013 at 11:37pm #

I have no problem at all with people in third world countries using stuff like that. I think they’re totally cool. But here, no. It’s just a way to pretend you’re off the grid.


Drewbacca

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Jan 1 2013 at 11:55pm #

” But here, no. It’s just a way to pretend you’re off the grid.”

I wish more people would “pretend” to be off the grid; every little bit helps. A littler exercise never hurts! The problem is that so few people here would be able to put something like this together… and if you can’t scrounge the parts from a bin + goodwill, then I don’t see much of a point.


Pseudacris

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Jan 2 2013 at 12:06am #

I get your point about greenwashing –

Personally, I think it is interesting to see how machines work – worm gears, belt drives, &tc and to make use of “exercise”.

Then there are those times when “the grid” is down and the resourcefulness of people making bike-powered generators to charge phones during disasters like Hurricane Sandy. No, it does not solve everything, but it got some phones charged, kept people warm, and created an interesting social space for neighbors who normally may not interact at all.

SOmetimes efficiency is overrated anyway

[edit to add sandy photo]


helen s

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Jan 2 2013 at 5:53pm #

“Is there anything more stupid? Bicycle-powered appliances (in areas with reliable electricity) replace coal power with human power, which is in turn powered by nitrogen fixation which is driven by fossil fuel. So you end up with a much less efficient way to convert fossil fuel into appliance motion, while making whoever is doing it feel all green inside.”

Is there anything more stupid than bicycles in areas of relatively inexpensive fossil fuels and large somewhat safe vehicles with heat, air condiditoning, internal music, and a roof and windows- not to mention some roadways that keep pedestrians and other non-motorized vehicles out so you can go much faster?

I trust you were being sarcastic in your post as I was above. But maybe not.


jonawebb

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Jan 2 2013 at 6:12pm #

Bicycles vs. cars is completely different story, because you aren’t carrying around 2 tons of metal when you are riding a bike. So far more efficient, even when you take into account human energy being generated less efficiently from fossil fuels than just using them directly. Plus, many other benefits.


steevo

Private Message

Jan 2 2013 at 6:16pm #

Jona,

Ever think that the opposite could happen?

People see the ridiculously low power that

they put out, and come to appreciate the

difference between a 150 and 50 watt bulb?

Or make the extra effort to turn out a light.

My dad does resource efficiency engineering

for the military and literally brought in

power reading bikes to the people who

lived on the base to show them that they

would basically struggle to put out the

power to keep 2 bulbs on for a few hours.

This can help lead to a subconscious effect

to reduce consumption.


Anonymous

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Jan 6 2013 at 1:27am #

@jonawebb

I think your analysis of bike powered appliances is good, but is lacking an important variable: exercise!

If I’m going to be exercising to stay healthy in addition to my commuting, that energy is going to go to complete waste. Efficiency = 0! Every time I set up my trainer, I just produce heat, which is unfortunate because I live in a large apartment building that stays so warm that even with the heat off I sometimes have to open the windows to stay comfortable. If I did something useful with that energy, then its not being wasted. But, its important to point out that there is a limit to my need to exercise and beyond that limit there are other more efficient ways to produce the energy (as you stated). So as long as there is the need to exercise, why not make use of that exercise energy?

Also, although I take energy efficiency very seriously, there are other factors to consider. Imagine what our lives would be like if everyone had to ride a bike to power their tv. Imagine how much our society would benefit! Instead, we go to the gym to run on a treadmill that requires power! Point being, humans don’t generate much power so the energy efficiency issue from human powered devices is minor compared to all the other ways that we waste energy and live in excess.


StuInMcCandless

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Jan 6 2013 at 12:17pm #

I foresee a day when every residence has a storage battery, similar to but not necessarily identical to a car’s, and a means of charging it, by multiple means: solar panel, windmill on the roof, and a bike. Said battery would power a lot of overhead things like lighting, electronics, charging portables.

In a thread here a few years back, we talked about powering a set of musical instruments with bike power, and I believe this has been done multiple times.

Finding the bikes is easy. The bigger problem is getting the right size generator. I suggested the charging system off a motorcycle that’s being scrapped. There must be plenty of wrecked or elderly motorcycles around with perfectly operable alternators and related pieces.


mark

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Jan 16 2013 at 7:08am #

Hi Helen!

I work at a company called zero fossil, we make and sell the product you are talking about. We work with bike pittsburgh and lots of other local organizations offering green power for events. If you want more information about it or anything related please feel free to write me tech (at) zerofossil.com

If anyone else has any questions about bicycle powered appliances or just power generation from bicycles in general get in touch!

Mark


mark

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Jan 16 2013 at 7:20am #

Also, to touch on a couple other things that came up in this thread:

Stu, Zero Fossil sells exactly that system to people all over the country, based right here in pittsburgh!

steevo, we also make a hand crank demo where we put the output of a hand crank directly to an incandescent, a CFL, and a LED so you can feel the difference in the power… they are all on their own switches so you can feel the power output needed for each one. people really grasp the differences in the output when they are doing the work.

To get an idea of the people that use our bike powered systems I can give a a couple examples of people in the area who have bought them recently:

-people doing spin classes that want to make power

-a man in a hunting cabin with no grid power, he just pedals and watches movies

-a woman that lives a bit further out that has semi-regular power outages during the winter, she wanted an option to keep her freezers going in a long outage.

-people that pedal inside and want to bring down their electric bill in the process


paulheckbert

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Nov 19 2013 at 10:58pm #

Reviving an old thread: There’s a company in upstate New York doing this, also: a pedal-powered generator (with which you could drive a laptop or lamp), grinding wheel, grain mill, log splitter… Does Zero Fossil do all of these things?

http://www.theatlanticcities.com/design/2013/11/generate-your-own-electricity-pedaling-bicycle-desk/7629/


Mikhail

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Nov 20 2013 at 8:12am #

paulheckbert wrote:Zero Fossil

http://www.zerofossil.com/ — you can look yourselve. :) Last time I’ve talked to guys was during BikePGH setup when we unloaded their truck with solar panels and batteries. They converted a regular trainer in a generator (Bikerator) so it does not look that nice as one in the article but you can put most of bikes (wheel size matters) into the trainer. And then you can connect it to a battery (they call it juicebox) or something else.

Now they have something looking as stationary bicycle named Will but I never saw it in real life.

http://www.zerofossil.com/code/products.html


Mick

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Dec 2 2013 at 10:20pm #

I have a bike powered generator, but lack some of the technology -and more importantly, all of the musical collaborators – to make a bicycle powered band.


Pierce

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Dec 3 2013 at 12:37am #

Although this is an old argument, I’m all for reviving it

I can’t imagine how (assuming one doesn’t have a green energy supplier) burning coal is more efficient than generating power by human means

What if one is vegan? What if one gets food from their own garden? How much time/energy/organic matter goes into making the finite resource of coal? Coal is nothing more than stored energy that took millions of years to create.

It’s kind of a false analogy to compare the finished product of coal to generating electricity in the present

It’s like pulling out a loaf of bread you bought from the bakery earlier and saying to somebody who is making bread “Hey, this is more efficient!”

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