Archive for the inventions Category

Electric Human Wheel

Posted in inventions, Sustainability, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 4, 2016 by Drogo

Electric Generating Stationary Bikes (Human Hamster-Wheels)

Very interesting. This truly piques the engineer in me’s interest.. I’m with the idea 100% of the flywheel approach and it running around $100.. the kicker would be the battery bank and the inverter..
You could get some cost savings using an old bike as a donor for parts, and the larger the flywheel the better off you could be. (once it gets going momentum would help you continue the spin) Throw a decent transmission (from donor bike) in there and you can keep the speed controlled and wouldn’t need a voltage regulator.
Now tied to an existing offgrid setup.. like a Tesla Battery (Powerwall i believe they are calling it?) with a good diode.. That could be a great boon!
I am somewhat dubious of the “1 hour” thing as that’s extremely variable depending on usage of power and condition of battery; that’s more of a ‘sales’ point but the concept itself is sound as well as proven in other applications (the manual treadmills in gyms in the 90’s powering attached TVs come to mind)

That all said; there is another side to it that I would be remiss in not bringing up.. Unless you have a REALLY well made system you will lose energy to the inefficiency inherent in converting mechanical energy to electrical energy.. (not to mention the chemical energy (calories) required to produce the mechanical energy to convert to electrical energy.. so for like an off grid setup this would be great, but something where you’re trying to shave cost off of your utility bill the savings VS upfront cost would be somewhat hard to justify unless energy costs SUPER skyrocket or you are super efficient with your use of energy in the first place. Good source on that:
http://michaelbluejay.com/electricity/bicyclepower.html

Bottom line? Do-able and valid, REALLY cool too! but unless you’re super efficient with your use of energy, have batteries and an invertor on hand or for cheap… not necessarily cost effective VS grid.

Generating electricity with a bicycle

 

  • Tom Overby, Inventor (from a comment on a FB SCOD Group Post)

Tensions in Sustainable Transportation: Tesla Motors Not Allowed in Virginia

Posted in Science & Math, Technology - Vehicles, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 14, 2013 by Jessica Bowen

I was a bit surprised and irritated when I found out that Tesla motors, an upcoming electric car company, wasn’t allowed to have a dealership in Virginia. They still have a gallery in Tysons Corner, VA, but can’t directly sell cars from the location. Fortunately, there are other dealerships in the relatively close locations of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Raleigh, North Carolina. However, this serves as an example of how our current system works in a way that perpetuates itself, and makes it difficult to integrate new ways of doing things.  It’s another illustration of the way that our system is not yet set up to really handle sustainability.

Tesla Model S

Tesla is a relatively new manufacturer, and they sell their cars directly to consumers, with no middle-people doing the transactions.  In Virginia, as in some other states, laws are in place that make manufacturers work through a franchised dealership to sell their cars to the public. There are loopholes, in case there are no dealerships available (as in the case of Tesla.) Despite this, the Virginia state Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner, Richard D. Holcomb, ruled that there is no evidence that there is no dealership Tesla can sell through. And so they can’t sell cars in Virginia at all.

Perhaps, though, this has more to do with tax dollars than dealerships. As in the case of other states considering adopting legislation to tax electric cars more than fossil-fuel cars, keeping a Tesla dealership out of Virginia could be a way of trying to keep some number of electric cars out of the state, thereby guaranteeing more tax revenue through gas purchases by the public.

A quick Google search even revealed to me a document on Virginia’s website by Richard Holcomb, concluding that the “DMV is facing a nearly $20 million decline in revenue starting July 2013.”

(Image Copyright University of Maryland)

With this in mind, if the State does generate a good bit of money from gas sales, losing that could be intimidating to them. In my mind, that might make a state want to increase the gas tax, to maintain revenue as the (polluting) fuel becomes less available and push for the public to purchase electric vehicles or use other means of transportation. At the moment, though, it seems that we have built a system around gasoline-powered vehicles. And we do still need to fund roads, of course.

The ideology behind the free market’s supposed ability to fix social and environmental problems is a big consideration, as it has become very ingrained in our thinking and structure.

In a lighter sense, Tesla’s being denied access to public car sales in Virginia could be seen as just one hiccup in a much wider change that is happening. Despite this one dealership denial, Teslas can still be seen driving around the DC area, proving that they’re still somehow available to that public. And so, maybe the car maker’s dealership denial can be seen as both an illustration of the way our current system works to keep change out, but also an illustration of how change will find a way.

[article written by SCOD Member Jessica Bowen]