Tuesday, July 22, 2008

People in Hong Kong Gym Generate Electricity While Exercising

People in Hong Kong Gym Generate Electricity While Exercising

11 March 2007
Blume report - Download 278k audio clip
Listen to Blume report audio clip

As the political and ecological aspects of energy rise in people's consciousness, the search for new and clean ways to generate energy is

California Fitness Gym's demonstration how energy is<br />generated from gym users
California Fitness Gym's demonstration how energy is
generated from gym users
gaining momentum. A fitness center in Hong Kong has joined the movement with a new idea: the energy generated by the members as they exercise is transformed into electricity to help light the facility. Claudia Blume has more.

The serious exerciser's motto used to be, no pain, no gain. At Hong Kong's California Fitness centers, the new catch phrase might be, no sweat, no light. When club members use certain exercise machines, the energy they generate is turned into stored electricity. To make the fluorescent tubes in the studio's ceiling light up, they have to start pumping.

The consoles of the exercise machines themselves were already powered by human energy. But about 90 percent of the energy produced during workouts was dissipated as heat.

Lucien Gambarota, a Hong Kong-based renewable energy entrepreneur and the inventor of the idea, says an average person can produce 50 watts of electricity per hour. He explains how the energy created by the exercisers is transformed into

Lucien Gambarota, inventor and renewable energy entrepreneur<br />explains how the energy from exercisers is transformed into<br />electricity
Lucien Gambarota, inventor and renewable energy entrepreneur
explains how the energy from exercisers is transformed into

"Each of these machines, they are equipped with a generator inside. So what we did, we diverted part of the electricity produced by the machine to recharge a battery, he said. "And with what we store in the battery, we have been able to power part of the lighting system."

Gym users are enthusiastic about the new project, which started at the end of February.

"I think it's a really good idea. At least the energy is used for something good. It gives you more reason - you are not wasting what you are using, so it's better that way," said a club member.

So far, only 13 of the club's exercise machines are hooked up to a battery. Because of the encouraging results in the start-up phase, however, the center is planning to expand the idea throughout the gym.

Steve Clinefelter, president of the Asia-wide California Fitness chain, says his company will even consider expanding the human power project further.

"If that proves successful and economically viable, then we see nothing that would stop us from continuing to grow to more and more of our clubs, and ultimately to the entire industry, and all clubs worldwide would consider and choose this kind of an alternative power source," he said.

Clinefelter's other vision for the future: he says he plans to hook up the club's television sets to the human-generation system. If you want to watch TV while working on the stationary bike or the Stairmaster - you are just going to have to pump harder.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

History of alternative fuels

This article in the Washington Post today and it really made me think!
It travels back to the time when we were dependent on whale oil.
We move off of whale to shale and coal, but now we see that was not the best alternative either. What is the best next way to go? Nuclear? Geo-thermal? Wind and Solar? I feel the best way is to stay in tune with nature, not fight against it.

The Whale Oil Economy

An arctic cemetery in Longyearbyen, Norway.
An arctic cemetery in Longyearbyen, Norway. (By Chris Jackson -- Getty Images)

By Michael Gerson
Wednesday, July 16, 2008; Page A17

IN THE ARCTIC CIRCLE -- North of Oslo, north of Longyearbyen, almost as north as North itself, the National Geographic Endeavor breaks pack ice in endless daylight through a gray-teal sea. The expedition has been cruising near Svalbard, a group of high arctic islands larger than Denmark -- in summer, a land of brown mountains streaked with snow-filled gullies, low clouds that blur distinctions of sky and land, and wide glaciers reaching the ocean in gashes of bright sky blue.

Ashore, this arctic desert is so harsh that the region's natives wisely never settled here -- only men digging coal, trapping arctic fox and polar bear, and hunting whales were foolish enough to come. A forlorn whaling camp remains -- ruined cabins, a few shallow human graves in the permafrost (most were washed away) and dozens of massive right whale skulls, still bleeding whale oil into the ground, feeding moss and low, pink flowers. Whalers searched for oil in blubber and bone to light their economy. Now the question arises: Is this last wilderness being changed by another kind of oil?

Stefan is a Swedish member of the crew who has sailed these waters for 24 years, after catching "polar fever" as a youth. When asked about the effects of warming he has witnessed, Stefan, who wanted only his first name to be used, displays a sailor's skepticism. Populations of walrus and polar bear, he believes, have been growing in strength, not declining. Ice conditions show "huge variation from one season to another," making it difficult to discern a pattern. But the local Hopen island weather station records that the thickness of winter sea ice has shrunk by 16 inches since the 1960s. And "the glaciers," Stefan says, "are retreating everywhere."

This desolate, grand, forgotten sea has suddenly come to the center of world attention for one reason: the pace of climate change is faster than expected. In the past 50 years, as much as half of summer sea ice has gone missing. Another few decades could mean that the ice disappears entirely. The absence of ice in water has little to do with raising sea levels; it is water stored on land in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets that could fill the oceans like a brimming bathtub. But since ice acts as a kind of mirror, less ice means less reflected sunlight, which means that the Arctic could heat at twice the rate of the rest of the world. And in the past five years, some of Greenland's glaciers have shown accelerated melting as well. (The Antarctic sheet seems more stable because it is more isolated from global weather patterns.)

With this melting from ice sheets and glaciers -- and the natural expansion of warmer water -- the global sea level is rising about 3 millimeters a year, 75 percent more than the average of the past century. Some climate scientists predict an increase of a little less than half a meter by 2100; others predict considerably more. In normal circumstances, a rise in the sea level of a half-meter or a meter might be manageable. But during a storm surge, it could be catastrophic in low-lying areas, turning once-in-a-century floods into regular occurrences.

Arctic warming is part of an increasingly compelling case for global warming -- or, more accurately, climate disruption that seems to come from warming. Around the world, we see signs large and small: tree lines moving north; the bleaching of coral in tropical waters; changes in growing seasons; the growth in population of destructive pests such as the pine beetle; the drying of southern Africa, the Mediterranean and the U.S. Southwest.

Global climate, of course, has changed before. But climate conditions for the past 10,000 years have been relatively stable, to the great benefit of civilization. Current temperature increases point beyond that band of comfort and don't seem explainable by natural cycles. The one factor dramatically different from the past is the human production of greenhouse gases, particularly the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is higher than at any time in the past 800,000 years.

The challenge of replacing carbon in our economy is massive -- and many incompletely known factors, from ice dynamics to the flow of ocean currents, determine its urgency. Answers will require a politically difficult task: acting with uncertain risk.

But as I stand near the top of the world on a desolate shore with whale skulls and ruins, the crude oil economy appears about as primitive and destructive as the whale oil economy now seems.


Monday, July 14, 2008

Eating Your Words

So I'm online doing another search for non-toxic printer ink and I came across these sites: Icing Images
and KopyKake

Not only is this ink non-toxic but it's kosher! So the way it works is you buy a thin icing sheet that feeds into your printer like paper. You can then print out your image and it bonds to the icing on your cake. You have to check out the site to see all of the great cakes and cupcakes!

If you don't want to print them yourself you can send in a photo and they will print it and send it to you. I may do this sometime for a special occasion.

Now the cost of the ink is about $70 and you can do about 85 printouts with it. You will also want to have a dedicated printer for your food so you don't contaminate your icing sheets with standard printer ink which is not non-toxic.

I want to go non-toxic all the time! It costs about the same if I buy my ink at Staples, but if I knock-off ink online, it's about half that price.

What's next? Edible ink pens!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Commuting Habits

I've been meaning to start riding my bike to work to save on gas but most importantly to reduce my carbon output even more. (I ride a shuttle and metro to work.)
But, I find myself procrastinating and finding reasons why I'm not ready.

So, I'm taking a new tactic and it's working.
1. I talked to my co-workers about biking to work.
I have a few co-workers who do ride their bikes to work and they told me all of the good routes to take.
2. Plan the morning. I realized I have 14 mile ride so I will need to shower when I get to work. That means prepositioning my work clothes so I have less to carry with me on my bike. I also need to leave early enough in the morning. I already scoped out where to park my bike at the gym.
3. Tell others my plan. The more I tell others my plan, the more people ask me about it and remind me to just do it!
4. Check out my bike and take a test ride. Today it the day for me to do that. I set aside time to dust off the bike and find my way to the bike path. Once I get to the path it's a straight shot to work. I have my bike lock and reflector gear to wear so I should be good to go.
5. Now just do it! This week I'm going to give it a go. I said that last week, but I really mean it now! Ha!

So, if you see me this week, be sure to ask me if I make it to step 5!

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