No Pain, No Power: Turning Sweat Into Electricity
Exercise equipment can sometimes feel futile: you expend all that energy pedaling or stomping or jogging, but ultimately go nowhere at all. Two companies, however, have developed ways to capture that energy and put it back to work—generating electricity.
ReRev, short for Renewable Revolution, is a Florida-based renewable energy company that retrofits elliptical machines to convert users’ kinetic energy into direct current (DC) and then into alternating current (AC), which is used for electricity. Since June 2008, the company has installed more than 300 machines at 23 gyms across the country.
The Green Revolution, a Connecticut-based company, does the same thing for stationary spin bikes and, since April 2009, has delivered nearly 1,000 bikes to 60 gyms.
So how much power can an athlete generate?
On average, one person exercising for 30 minutes will generate an average of 50 watts. This is enough to power:
- a CFL light bulb for 2.5 hours
- a cell phone, 6 times
- a laptop for 1 hour
- a desktop computer for 30 minutes
Companies and institutions across the U.S. are implementing this calorie-converting technology to encourage conservationism and—hopefully—cut future energy costs.
A number of universities have installed ReRev machines, including Cal State San Bernardino, Davidson College, Drexel University, Furman University, James Madison University, Middle Tennessee State University, Oregon State University, Portland State University, Texas State University, University of Arkansas, University of Florida, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Oregon, and University of South Carolina.
Habana Outpost, a restaurant located in Brooklyn, NY, offers a $1 discount to customers who “pedal their own smoothie,” since it takes one minute on a stationary bike to power a blender.
And inmates in the women’s section of at the Tent City jail are granted the privilege of watching their favorite television shows by participating in the “pedal-vision program,” which uses a stationary spin bike to power a 19” TV.