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 think all criminals everywhere should have to work off the expense of their incarceration. If pedaling to generate power is useful to the community, then they should be alloted a power/day routine. Besides, exhausted criminals are much less likely to get into further mischief in prison. Plus who knows, it may turn out to be a great training plan for future Tour de France contestants.
All power to the cleaver people of Brazil, make them pay for their crimes to society!
If there was a method to improve on efficiency, it would be great to use at home, but let be realistic. For home use I see no major impact to our large energy footprint. A typical household may use 50 to 100 KWhr per day, so I do not see the human gerbil experiment replacing the city power grid ;-)
Lighting is a practical use, given the improvements of LED efficiency, however they may other practical uses for remote and rural areas.
Researchers from the Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems and Dow Corning Corporation are working on materials to protect solar cells from environmental influences. Silicone appears as one of the most promising materials.
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