NAU Students Build Bike-Powered Charging Station
There is a new form of alternative electrical energy at Northern
Arizona University (NAU)—people power. After nearly a year of planning and
construction, a small group of dedicated NAU students have discovered a hands-on,
interactive way to charge their small electronic devices and educate their
peers about electricity—by pedaling a bike at a Bike-Powered Charging Station. The
station has a built-in USB outlet for plugging in cell phones and iPods. “This
is a device where people can actually feel what power is and where it is coming
from. This station will give students a physical idea of the energy they use,”
said NAU senior Matt Petney, an engineering student.
To use the station, all students will have to do is plug in their small
electronic devices, get on the bike, and pedal. “The station will be really
helpful for students who need to charge something during the day,” said 2012 environmental
engineering graduate Marilla Lamb.
collaborative student effort
A cross-section of NAU students have contributed to the project and
have built each component of the bike themselves. Engineering students,
computer science students, and students from NAU’s triathlon and cycling teams all
played a role in the development of the charging station. “We worked with the
electrical engineering students and computer science students directly to
create every piece from scratch,” said Petney.
“This is a device where people can actually feel what power is and
where it is coming from. This station will give students a physical idea of the
energy they use.”
The students built the stand, placed glass around the battery, mounted
the handlebars, and created the small computer touch screen that displays the
amount of energy being produced. “It has been a lot of work,” said Lamb. The
Yellow Bike Program at NAU donated the bike, and the Green Fund granted $2,900
to pay for building materials and supplies.
station to move around campus
The Bike-Powered Charging Station will initially be placed on the
second floor of the engineering building and will be moved to different
buildings around campus throughout the year—with the goal of reaching as many
students as possible.
“The objective of this project is to make students aware of the amount
of electricity they use,” said Lamb. “We tend to plug things into outlets
without any thought.”
In addition to raising student awareness about their energy
consumption, the Bike-Powered Charging Station hopes to inspire additional new
ideas and encourage other students to get involved. “Tons of these could be
produced in the coming years. All we need are students to make it happen. If students take the initiative, the
opportunities are endless,” said Petney. “College is not all about what you
learn from textbooks.”
information about bicycle generators or to get involved, contact Karin Wadsack (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To learn more
about the Green Fund or to see how you can apply for Green Fund grants,
visit nau.edu/green or