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Converting physical fitness into clean, renewable energy

By Alec Jennings
University News Service
November 18, 2009

Texas State University-San Marcos, its faculty and student body are poised to become the world's largest human power plant.

The retrofitting of 30 elliptical machines in the Student Recreation Center will give the equipment the capability of converting exercise into renewable energy, connecting it to the university power grid. The unveiling of the retrofitted machines will take place Dec. 8 at 3 p.m. in the SRC, making Texas State the first university in the state to generate electricity in such a way, and making it the largest of its kind in the world.

The technology will convert the effort of a typical 30 minute workout into about 50 watt hours of electricity, which is sufficient to power a laptop computer for one hour, or a desktop computer for 30 minutes.

"The main rationale is to help promote sustainability efforts and raise awareness with the student body," said Stephanie Thompson, sport clubs director. "We believe that once students understand how much energy it takes to power appliances or electronics, they will adapt their lifestyles to create a more energy efficient and sustainable community."

The $19,750 cost of the project will be paid for by Texas State’s Environmental Service Committee and the Department of Campus Recreation with support from Associated Student Government.

The technology will be installed by ReRev, a Clearwater, Fla., based company which has worked on similar projects nationwide.

More information about this project can be found at www.campusrecreation.txstate.edu/Calories-to-Kilowatts. For further information, contact the Department of Campus Recreation at (512) 245-2392.