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Thread: Can bicycles power a nation?

  1. #1 Can bicycles power a nation? 
    Forum Masters Degree mmatt9876's Avatar
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    If everybody in a nation modified their bicycles to have an electric generator and battery attached, and rode a set distance every day, could they power their nation, when they plug the charged batteries back into the power grid at the end of the day, or would it just be way to little?


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  3. #2  
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    A bicyclist can generate about 100 to 200 watts, maybe 500 for short bursts. So if you pedal your bicycle for 2 hours each day, you could generate perhaps 400 watt-hours which is enough to light up to four 100-watt bulbs for an hour at night. That is if the full power generated during the 2 hours is used to charge the battery; it's not the amount left over from your day's ride.


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  4. #3  
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    WAY to little, sadly.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

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  5. #4  
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
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    Let's put it this way: You couldn't even heat the extra water needed to wash off the sweat you worked up riding your bike.
    "Men are apt to mistake the strength of their feelings for the strength of their argument.
    The heated mind resents the chill touch & relentless scrutiny of logic"-W.E. Gladstone


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  6. #5  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    Never mind that you have to eat extra to do the extra bicycling.
    "Kill them all and let God sort them out."

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  7. #6  
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    This is actually a good question. The answers above provide some much needed perspective into the maze of 'alternate energy' discussions that are happening in society. Some energy saving or energy generating ideas have merit but unfortunately a lot 'sound good' but are insignificant in value.

    It's hard for most of us to wade through the pros and cons but the last two answers about needing to wash and eat more are not only funny but have merit when trying to assess the bigger picture of energy efficiency.
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  8. #7  
    Forum Masters Degree mmatt9876's Avatar
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    That is too bad. I was hoping an array of bicycles, with alternating riders, could be used to generate a level of electricity over a day comparable to a solar or wind array.
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by mmatt9876
    That is too bad. I was hoping an array of bicycles, with alternating riders, could be used to generate a level of electricity over a day comparable to a solar or wind array.
    Well, a wind turbine doesn't do much on a calm day...and cyclists don't ride much on a windy day, with a bit of coordination........
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  10. #9  
    Forum Professor marcusclayman's Avatar
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    but consider how much energy can be saved by using bikes and walking, instead of cars, to get around
    Dick, be Frank.

    Ambiguity Kills.
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  11. #10  
    Veracity Vigilante inow's Avatar
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    Absolutely. Every little bit helps. In terms of the OP, though... It was asked whether or not the nation could be powered by pedaling. In that sense, the scale of the power from bikes is too low to replace, but it's most certainly not too low to supplement, so cheers to that. 8)
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  12. #11  
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    Average US household uses 10,000.00 KW/h energy a year. That is approx.. 28KW/h per day. One person pedaling a bike for an hour produces approx. 125W/h. At this rate 75 people are required to ride the bike 1 hour each to produce your household energy needs for one day. Each person doing 1 hour pedaling will burn approx. 550 W of calories. 1 Kcal=4.18 KJ=1.16W. So you have to replace approx. 475 Kcal burned. Average diet is 2-2500 Kcal/day.
    Considering the breakdown of the numbers it is extremely inefficient way to run a household. If you consider that you have to convert AC (battery) to DC volts, you will lose more energy. Overall is not surprising at all. If you have to put in more energy then what you obtain, this process will always be inefficient. The only question is; to what degree (percentage)?
    This is true for conventional energy production also; the only difference is that the energy conversion rate is much higher.
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