Students at the University of Oregon are working hard (literally) to find out the answer to a pressing question in today’s energy climate: can you generate electricity with your workout? What would you do to keep the lights on at your home, while cutting utility costs?
The University of Oregon Student Recreation Center has been retrofitted so that human energy expended while working out on elliptical machines is sent through a converter to change the direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) – the type of electricity you need when you plug into an outlet. ReCardio technology helps this unique power experiment, “come to light,” so to speak!
You might wonder – as I did – if the amount of electricity it takes to power up the exercise equipment could be replaced, and then some, with human-powered electricity. Honestly, it does take time to generate enough electricity to power more than just a few lights each time you work out, but if you work out frequently, why not recycle that energy expended to minimize your electricity needs just a bit?
Some would say that the recardio technology is more an exercise in demonstrating the vast amount of energy we consume on a daily basis. The Student Recreation Center is not about to light up the City of Eugene with renewable energy. Even if 3,000 students workout on the retrofitted machines each day, it would take a year to produce enough alternative energy to take a single, energy-efficient home off the grid.
Still, I ask myself: why not? Every little bit can help, and if you consider the fact there are 30,000 health clubs in the United States, you could one day give back a little more than you take, each time you go to the gym.
Besides, it can be a bit eye-opening when you do the math. Consider a 30-minute workout can power your laptop for one hour. Convert that to food energy, and you may want to re-think that 280 calorie candy bar!
Perhaps the wave of the future will be to hook up retrofitted machines to the televisions we watch while we sweat away, or to recharge the batteries on our iPods. I’m all for that! I like the idea of a carbon-neutral workout.
What do you think? Silly idea, or ingenious?