Students generating power on UNT campus




Posted on August 30, 2010 at 6:23 PM

DENTON — The University of North Texas is known as the "Mean Green," but the namesake didn't have anything to do with actually going green — until now.

The school's recreation center is being touted as the largest human power plant. When students get on the elliptical machines to burn calories, they have the ability to burn generate enough kilowatts to do so much more.

"This is the magic right here," said Joe Agricola as he installed the small power generators on the exercise equipment.

"The harder you work, the more results you get, and the more electricity you make," Agricola explained.

We saw students increasing their resistance levels on the elliptical with this in mind.

ReRev, the Florida company that developed the system, is connecting each exercise machine to the recreation center's power grid. By next week there will be a computer monitor for the 36 elliptical machines showing how many kilowatts a student is generating.

No other university in the country has this much equipment that can produce carbon-free electricity — definitely a sign of the times.

"I think its a great idea," said student Harper Higginbotham. "Glad we are not just putting up a sign, but doing something — it's actually making a real difference."

During a typical workout, the elliptical machine can generate 50 watts of power.

"A 30-minute workout can power a laptop computer for one hour and burn a a light bulb for two-and-a-half hours," said Laurie Klein, the senior associate director of UNT's recreation center.

It can also power a television for 10 minutes. These exercise machines cannot power the whole building, but these students are encouraged.

"You have to start somewhere," Higginbotham said. "If every person works out for 30 minutes, they're contributing to electricity they use."

The elliptical machines have another benefit: They also keep the the air moving in the room, which means heat doesn't build up, and air conditioning bills can be lower.