Exercise a healthy way to create renewable energy

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In the spirit of Earth Week, Students for an Environmentally Active Campus and the Marquette Cycling Club will show “Despicable Me” Sunday using bicycle power in the Central Mall at 8 p.m.

The pedal-powered movie is being held as a way to raise awareness about creative ways to stay sustainable, said Alexander Bedinghaus, a senior in the College of Engineering and president of the Marquette Cycling Club. Bedinghaus said the two clubs want everyone to see that they can have fun and see a movie without using any fossil fuels for electricity.

“Having this event as part of Earth Week is a great way to stay with the sustainable theme and give people a free event that they can use to take a study break,” Bedinghaus said.

Bedinghaus said a bike-powered stage at last summer’s concert series “Rock the Green” inspired the event.

“We thought, ‘If they could power a stage, why couldn’t we power a movie?'” Bedinghaus said.

There will be ten bicycles at the movie, with two of them open for anyone to hop on and use their body to generate the electricity. The movie and sound equipment will require 1,000 watts of power, Bedinghaus said, which means that while the movie is playing, the 10 generators will have to supply 100 watts of electricity to the equipment. An average person produces about 30 watts from just walking, so he doesn’t think it will be too difficult for the bike riders to produce the energy required.

“The possibilities for using bicycle power for other things are only limited by how much power can be produced,” he said. “The way that current bicycle trainers are set up, it would be fairly easy to charge a cell phone, power a radio or run a toaster. However, if we use the generators to charge batteries, the possibilities would be very expansive.”

Bedinghaus said the pedal power system works by taking the wheel’s rotational energy and converting into electrical energy, which will be sent to batteries to power the actual equipment.

“The bikes will be pedaled a half-hour before the show to make sure that the batteries are topped off,” Bedinghaus said. “This system allows the bicyclists to generate more energy than needed for the movie, and the movie will keep playing.”

Bedinghaus said he believes the potential for a truly sustainable energy source powered solely by bikes is just the beginning.

“The idea of using exercise to create useful electrical energy is an untapped resource,” Bedinghaus said. “It is an interesting notion to think that just two stationary bikes could power the entire Rec Center sound system. The technology is out there – it just has yet to be implemented.”

The idea for the movie came from the Cycling Club’s interest in sharing the hobby of bicycling with the Marquette community, Bedinghaus said.

“Sometimes it seems that students do not even know that Marquette has a cycling club, so we wanted to put on an event that would get people excited about getting out to ride their bikes,” Bedinghaus said. “Since not all students have bicycles on campus, we knew we would need something that would appeal to and include everyone with or without a bike.”

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