At the Santa Rita do Sapucaí Penitentiary in Brazil, prisoners have been given the opportunity to shorten their jail sentence by becoming human power generators.
The initiative is centered around two stationary exercise bikes, placed in the courtyard of the penitentiary. The bikes are connected to batteries which can be charged using the cyclists’ kinetic energy.
Once charged, the batteries are transported to the city where they are used to power the city’s street lamps.
For every 16 hours of pedaling, prisoners reduce their total prison sentence by a day.
One day of cycling can power up to six light bulbs, and it’s thought that if the program were to be scaled up, it could produce enough energy to power the entire city’s street lights.
Pending an improvement in the total power harnessed per hour, this human powered method of producing green energy could change the way people around the world choose to get “off the grid”.
Imagine the day when your morning ride could heat the stove for breakfast or your after work stress-reliever workout could power your TV.
Despite the impending comparison to a hamster on a wheel, I say bring it on. I would happily pedal away my PG&E bill.
So, readers, if you could power your home using only energy generated by your own physical strength, would you?
-- Leslie Langan is an emerging technology addict. She is driven by passion for innovation and ideas that improve the world around us.
I agree with you on that point. Many of us go to the gym regularly and burn some of our stored energy making weights go up and down or on a cardio machine, and usually we're listening to music and/or watching the big screen TVs while we're doing it.
At the very least, the energy we willingly expend for fitness could be used to help power those TVs, or the lights at the gym, or to charge our portable music players or phones.
Many of the responses to this post are centered on the question of whether it's right or wrong that prisoners can reduce their sentences by pedaling to power street lights. I agree that this is kind of a dicey proposition, particularly in the case of violent offenders. (But like Sylvie, I would hope that those offenders that have been convicted of violent crimes would not be eligible.)
But as to the other question that the author poses, what if you could use your own pedal power to heat the stove for breakfast or to power your TV, I'm all for it. While I agree with the earlier comment that this probably doesn't have the potential to replace that much of the power we use, every bit helps, and if we could harness the energy we expend in our daily workout, anyway, to help offset the energy we use, why not? If the efficiency can be improved, all the better.
I have always thought prisoners should pay for the tax-payer expense of holding them in secure and habitable places. I actually think they should do a 9 to 5 job (whatever society needs) in exchange for their full-board. I am not sure their sentences should be reduced as a result though...
Yeah, but bending to fill in a pothole... they could put their back out ;) I don't see why they don't just power the prison itself using the energy, instead of transporting the batteries into town. Prisoners want a TV? Pedal for it. They want warm food? pedal for it. That seems fair to me. pedal for perks.
The liability of a rider having a heart attack on a bike needs to be considered before applying the exercise for watts formula across the penal system. Better they apply themselves to fixing potholes in big cities. Those convicts already have a song to keep the beat: http://www.oldielyrics.com/lyrics/sam_cooke/chain_gang.html
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