Pedal Power for your Laptop
Intel Corporation launched in April a challenge to European universities to design a device capable of powering laptops by using renewable, sustainable energy sources.
The jury judged entries from universities from Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands and Spain. Each entry was judged according to several criteria, from ecological value to ingenuity of design to commercial viability.
The winning solution, by the Spanish team (UPM – Polytechnic of Madrid), is based on a pedal machine powered by human energy. The cycling action produces energy which is turned into the electricity necessary to power the laptop by a power electronics converter. According to the press release from Intel, the solution demonstrates the team’s systematic approach to deal with all aspects of the challenge: from its ease of implementation to the innovative quality of its electronic components with special features to allow for a realistic usage model.
The device is particularly user-friendly as it enables the user to adopt a flexible, customizable rhythm including any required breaks. Original features include the power electronic converter specifically designed to minimize charging time and keep energy flow at a constant level.
The press release, unfortunately, does not specify the performance of the device. Looking at the picture I was wondering if it would be an option for doing exercise while writing posts for the blog.
The runners-up, the Polytechnic of Milan (Italy) and Delft’s University of Technology (Netherlands), were also be recognized on the respective merits of their solutions. The Italian team devised an ingenious way to utilize hydrogen fuel cell to power a laptop, which is particularly noteworthy by its duration and for being environmentally clean.
Delft University’s design is also innovative and consists mainly of a rocking-motion pedal mechanism. An integrated design approach, drawing knowledge from a range of disciplines, was used to optimize the design.
The ideas bring to mind the design of the XO in the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) project, that includes “human power” options such as a crank, a pedal or a pull-cord.