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Engineering Students Pedal Enough Electricity to Watch Mission: Impossible

17 July 2016

While not exactly an ideal way to enjoy a film, a team of engineering students from the University of Leicester produced a bicycle-powered generator capable of powering a 55-watt projector for the time needed to watch an entire movie.

Recently pedal power has become a popular form of energy production, as it is considered another clean energy alternative and a way to positively affect the environment.

Student team develops compact bicycle-powered generator to watch Mission: Impossible. (Image Credit: University of Leicester) Student team develops compact bicycle-powered generator to watch Mission: Impossible. (Image Credit: University of Leicester)

The compact bicycle-powered generator was designed and built as part of the students’ fourth year Electrical Engineering (MEng) degree. The generator allows users to comfortably pedal and produce enough energy to power a cinematic projector.

How They Did It

The students connected a single-speed racer bicycle to a 250-watt motor via a belt. In order to provide enough current to charge the battery, the team determined that a user would need to pedal at a rate of 60 RPMs (60 revolutions per minute).

The battery supplied energy to a square wave inverter circuit, which converts the DC voltage created by the cyclist to AC voltage that powers the projector over a long period of time.

The students watched the movie Mission: Impossible together using the projector, while taking turns pedaling the bicycle in order to generate power.

“Working on a project like this has been an invaluable experience. To be able to see something which started off as a design be brought to reality is definitely a great achievement. Not only did we have the opportunity to apply some of our knowledge that we have learnt in our lectures, we also developed new skills over the course of this year,” said Muhammad Arslaan Ashfak, a fourth-year student in the University of Leicester’s Department of Engineering.

While the bicycle was developed in this instance to power a projector, the team says it could also be used as a phone-charging station in places around campus where students can charge their devices via pedal-power.

To contact the author of this article, email [email protected]

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