While the hoopsters were dunking, the fitsters in the University of Kansas fitness center were pedaling like hamsters to make sure the lights stayed on in the gym.
The so-called “green game” Dec. 19, 2009, between the University of Kansas (KU) and Michigan in KU’s Allen Fieldhouse was powered by energy converted from students using ellipticals in the student fitness center. The fitness center’s 15 ellipticals in August were retro-fitted with ReRev equipment that harnesses the kinetic energy produced by users and feeds it back to the university’s electrical grid to power the center. (Click here to see a July 2009 KU release about the project that cost the university $15,000.)
According to the makers of the ReRev (http://rerev.com/) equipment, a typical 30-minute workout produces enough clean energy to power a laptop for an hour, a TV for 15 minutes or a compact fluorescent light bulb for two hours and 30 minutes. ReRev is manufactured by Florida-based SunQuest Energy (www.sunquestenergy.com).
SunQuest has outfitted a number of universities, per its website, and joins a small but growing force to use the energy produced by humans as power. Click here to see a March 30, 2009, SNEWS® story from the IHRSA show that highlighted several companies’ efforts. Click here to read a Dec. 4, 2006, SNEWS story, “From workout to watts,” about former retail owner Ted Szoch’s concept of energy-harnessing equipment.
For Kansas, the “green game” on ESPN was only one entry in its sustainable log: The university also has an award-winning Center for Sustainability (www.sustainability.ku.edu) and runs a Biodiesel Initiative. A feature during the sports broadcast showed off the fitness center, and another showed how those involved in the biodiesel project use cooking oil from campus dining halls and convert it to fuel, which in the fall was used to power campus lawn mowers.
As a part of Saturday’s “green game,” the university promoted additional recycling efforts, used biodegradable popcorn bags and is recycling popcorn oil, among other initiatives.
In the fitness center, current equipment from Precor was retrofit for the project. The university stated that the ReRev devices will convert the energy created on the elliptical devices -- which usually goes wasted as heat -- from DC power into 240/208 Volt 60 Hertz AC inside a control box mounted near the exercise machines. Users will see displayed in real time the energy their workouts contribute to the building.
“It all came about as a student project,” Mary Chappell, director of KU Recreation Services, said in a university release earlier this year. “This idea came to me from a student named Andrew Stanley, and he’s very involved in environmentally conscious efforts. He asked, ‘Have you heard about harnessing human kinetic energy?’ Of course that piqued our interest. We immediately did a conference call with him and the ReRev guys.”
Oh, and top-ranked Kansas outlasted Michigan, 75-64, before a sold-out crowd.