Tyler had it all in place: first row tickets to see Emma’s favourite group and a new electric car to take her there. He couldn’t lose…until he ran out of power, 20 blocks from the concert hall. If only he’d remembered to charge at lunchtime… or found a way to create power on the go.
Just then, Rob raced on up in his kinetic powered car and offered a ride. So they hopped in and let Rob propel the car at 100 km per hour to make the show – with time and power to spare. Rob just keeps going and going. (Who knows how many dates he’s rescued or stolen.)
True story? Maybe not today but soon. Innovators are finding ways to use kinetic power to charge phones, while moving on skateboards, bikes and the like, without any down time. They’ve developed everything from kinetic powered longboards to race cars.
Longboard cruising to effortlessly harvest kinetic power
Bjorn van den Hout is a recent design graduate, who lives in the Netherlands and loves longboarding. Like most of us, Bjorn finds the further he gets from an electrical socket, the more likely he’ll run out of power. So for his grad project at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, Bjorn developed the Chargeboard.
This specialized longboard uses two dynamos or generators in its rear axles to produce kinetic power while you cruise. Then, it stores the power generated in a battery till needed. All the kinetic energy parts are hidden under the board and encased in a slick cover with outlets to charge varied types of mobile phones and an audio jack.
Cruising one hour on the Chargeboard generates enough energy to power a mobile phone eight times. So you can take a break, plug in and listen to tunes while your phone charges up, even in the middle of nowhere.
Although the Chargeboard is still just a prototype, Bjorn is seeking an interested product developer so that he can really cruise forward.
Cycling toward kinetic power for the developing world
Siva Cycle is a few laps ahead of many kinetic innovators with its Siva Atom that cyclists have been using to power their gadgets since 2013.
The Siva Atom is a small generator for cyclists. It fits snuggly over a bicycle’s wheel axel, where it captures the kinetic energy the cyclist creates by peddling. The power is stored in a detachable battery pack with a connector for charging phones, plus other USB-powered devices like GPS, lights or blue tooth speakers.
The Atom is ideal for keen cyclists who go the distance. You need to pedal over 8 kmph (5 mph) to produce power and maintain an average speed of about 21 kmph (13 mph) for 100 minutes to completely charge the battery.
Aaron Latzke and David Delcourt developed the Siva Atom in Oakland, California, with the initial plan to help those in the developing world gain much needed power in areas where it was unreliable, scarce or absent. According to a recent article in Ozy, this goal is still part of their long-term plan, but they are starting “where the money is,” says Latzke.
Winning the rat race with a hybrid mix
Using peddle-power to charge small devices is handy but what about powering a large vehicle? Rich Kronfeld founded Raht Mobile to tackle this challenge and recruited Minnesota-based designer Lyon Smith to develop the Raht Racer, which is ‘fuelled’ by a hybrid mix of energy sources.
The Raht Racer is a tricycle sports car that uses battery-storage, regenerative braking and solar power to amplify the driver’s pedal power up to highway speed. The driver’s kinetic energy produces about 20 per cent of the charge needed to fill the car’s lithium-ion batteries – and boosts its capacity from just over 120 km to almost 161 km (75 to 100 miles).
There is one prototype of the Raht Racer, which Smith dubbed the fastest pedal car in the world. The car made the finalist cut at Chicago’s Clean Energy Trust Challenge in early 2015 and the race was on to crowd source funds to move it forward. Unfortunately, the campaign was pulled midway but we’re hoping this ‘rat’ finds another door to crawl through to make it a reality.
If not, another kinetic energy car may take its place and supply Rob and others like him with ongoing power in the not too distant future.
What do you think? How would you like to generate and use kinetic energy while you’re in transit? Share your own stories or dreams with us.
We’re on the lookout for stories like these on how kinetic energy makes life better or even helps you escape to an awesome experience. Check back or sign-up to see what’s new and coming down the kinetic power line.