Author – Sreelakshmy V U
Remember the good old days, when bicycles were fitted with dynamos and small bulbs for travel during night. Pedaling causes the dynamo to generate power, helping the light to glow. But, today, this technology has been replaced by batteries, so no pedaling is required, as the lifestyle of people changed.
Pedal power generation is the method of generating electrical power from mechanical pedaling. It is a eco-friendly activity that causes no harm to the environment. This technique, which has been influenced by bicycle pedaling, is the most resilient and robust source of energy through all ages. With the emergence of modern electric powered technologies, the use of pedal power has been sidelined and very rarely used to generate electric power. With an efficiency of 97%, bicycle technology is nearly perfect. There are a few inventors in India who have been innovating to utilize this power to substitute the requirement of electric power for many other human activities.
Pedal power has been utilized for grinding grains, nut shelling, tile making, washing machine, blending, pumping water, grain threshers, etc. This means is particularly useful in rural India, where power cuts are frequent and rural farmers are forced to use this technique at times to compensate for their electrical needs. Lighting bulbs, charging batteries, stitching clothes, weaving silk are some of the other common applications of the pedal power generator.
According to the 2011 census, 44.8% of the total households in India still use bicycles. This indicates that there is still a huge chance of generating power through pedal power. With rising awareness, people have started to explore alternative ideas for mitigating acute power shortage. Further, facing many health issues, people are concerned about taking of their health. They have started to consider pedaling as a good way of exercising. With the concept of turning sweats into watts, people are adapting pedaling techniques in their household through the regular exercise bikes used in gyms with a small generator.
A pedal power generator works on a simple principle. When a person turns the pedal, rotary motion takes place. This rotary motion creates mechanical energy, which can be converted into electric power by connected to a generator. When a cycle rider presses on the pedal and turn the wheel one a time, the conveyor belt (chain) helps in generating four turns in the generator, as shown in the diagram:
Generally, a person can produce four times more power during pedaling than hand cranking. This method helps in producing power at faster rate with less fatigue too as compared to hand cranking. A maximum of 75 watts of power can be generated during pedaling, but power generation also depends upon the health of a pedaller!
The best way to make a device mechanically powered and to prevent the energy loss is to utilize the efficiency of pedal power. Through some innovative ideas, we can bring in devices to accommodate this pedal power, which not only reduce the power requirement but also give a solution to health-related issues. Here are some of those innovative ideas to utilize this pedal power –
Remya Jose – Mechanical Washing Machine
Remya Jose hailing from Malappuram, Kerala has created an innovative idea of a pedal-powered washing machine for helping her family with her daily washing chores. She used a simple technique for making the mechanical washing machine as compared an electric one. Her idea was modeled into a manual washing machine costing just about INR3,000, which is quite affordable for many Indians. The pedal-powered machine not only helps in washing clothes but also helps in staying fit through pedaling. A rust-proof iron mesh cylinder is placed inside an aluminum cabin. This cylinder is connected to a pedal system with a chain, pedals and a seat.
Clothes, along with detergent are placed into the cylinder, and the aluminum cabin is filled with enough water to immerse the clothes. The washing cycle begins then, soaking the laundry for at least 10 minutes. The cylinder moves fast enough to scour off the dirt with constant beating against the mesh. Once the water is drained, the machine can used to even dry up the clothes! Remya Jose’s idea was recognized by the National Innovation Foundation and she was awarded with various national awards. Her idea has not only helped the society but also conserves power consumption.
Mohammad Saidullah – Amphibious Bicycle
Another innovative work that grabbed attention is the ‘Noor Bicycle’ by Mohammad Saidullah, a resident of Motihari District, Bihar. He has many developed many innovative devices at a low cost, which have been recognized by the Indian government too. Noor Bicycle is an amphibious vehicle innovation developed by Saidullah with the intention of helping his village people to commute during the floods. This bicycle has the capacity to float in water and it can also be driven on land. It is a conventional bike with a few extra attachments—four rectangular air floats and fan blades attached radially to the spokes of the rear wheel. The floats keep the bicycle from sinking and the blades allow forward movement while pedalling. Saidullah has made this amphibious bicycle at an affordable rate.
V S Praveen – Pedal Powered Water Lifting Machine
V S Praveen, a Kerala-based young engineer has created another invention based on pedal power. An engineer by profession Praveen has invented pedal powered water lifting machine to help people to pump water from a sump to a tank on the top of a house, without any power. Pedaled by a single person His machine can lift about 50 liters of water per minute at its maximum capacity from a depth of 10m. So it takes just 10 minutes of pedaling to pump 100 liters of water from an underground sump to an overhead tank. This kind of easy pedaling not only lifts water, but also helps in burning of calories in the body. This machine can be bought for around INR20,000 (when mass produced). A single machine can be used by many farmers, since it can be rented on an hourly basis.
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