On November 5, the TGIF funded human powered elliptical was installed at UC Berkeley’s Recreational Sports Facility. Now, when you exercise, your energy will power a charger for your phone and will power the elliptical. Be sure to check it out – it is located right near the RSF entrance.
The Human Powered Gym Project was originally started by a ME undergraduate Maha Haji and a ME graduate student Kimberly Lau in 2010. They saw a potential for harnessing energy from the RSF exercise machines and thought that it would be a great way to harness power for the RSF, and first created a basic prototype using a bike.
Jodi Loo, the current project lead, got involved in September 2011, initially as a member on the elliptical sub-team, working on the technical design for the elliptical. “I wanted to get involved because I was excited about how I could participate in impacting sustainability in the Berkeley community,” said Loo. Since September 2011, their team worked on various retrofit designs to finally come up with the one currently in the RSF.
The team’s research showed that retrofitting the ellipticals (~28 of them) in the RSF would only generate ~1% of the RSF’s yearly energy usage, and the treadmills alone consume 12% of the RSF’s energy usage. The project shifted its focus from putting the human-powered energy back into the grid to creating something interactive and educational for RSF patrons. The new educational campaign team has created signage and slides (for the RSF multimedia screens) to create awareness around energy consumption and conservation. The education team also hopes to promote the use of an elliptical over a treadmill because of the large discrepancy in energy consumption. As for measuring the amount of power generated by the elliptical, the team has developed a data acquisition system, which will soon be installed with the machine.
“We’ve had a very positive and enthusiastic response from the RSF administration that has been very helpful in allowing us to move our retrofitted machines to the RSF and promote our education campaign. I think overall, we have had a very positive response from the Berkeley campus and community itself through various media outlets,” said Loo.
The project has been featured on the UC Berkeley Facebook page, garnering almost 600 likes and over 90 shares. In addition, the video article made by the UC Berkeley College of Engineering Innovations publication has gotten over 1600 views, and counting! “I think the response is great, and we hope that we can improve upon this initial design and launch to make it even better,” said Loo.
Thank you to Jodi Loo for providing the information for this article.
-article written by TGIF Program Associate Claire Kaufman