Aaron Kettl | Aaron Kettl - 2009 Architecture Thesis - Human Machine

As designers and visionaries of the built environment it is imperative that we look deep into the future to understand the ecological impact of our decisions. Human Power is a research experiment to understand the potential for humans to generate electricity with an exercise device retrofitted to turn a generator.

thesis, architecture, human, machine, electricity, research, generator

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PART 3

HUMAN

MACHINE

EXPERIMENTAL PROTOTYPE

ENERGY CYCLE

As designers and visionaries of the built environment it is imperative that we look deep into the future to understand the ecological impact of our decisions. We are responsible for our designs so we must be conscientious of our actions. Through this responsible design approach, the field of architecture should be continually expanding in its technological advancement. The ever-expanding knowledge of building materials and environmental systems should be implemented and tested to continually raise the bar of expectation for building performance.

The tested exercise machine is a prototype of an exercise bike that has been modified so that the bicycle wheel spins the shaft of a generator to produce energy. This machine is operated by a test subject to track empirical data of energy output. The energy readings tell the average amount of watts per minute that a human can produce. This unit of measure is crucial for comparing the energy output of the exercise machine to the energy used in a building. Through this test, other explorations of energy producing human powered machines will be possible, and their design can be validated because of an effective performance of the prototype. By using the exercise machine as a presentation device, it becomes an aid in explaining human power. The model operates by human interaction, so observers can be invited to operate it in order to grasp their ability to produce energy.

The Energy Cycle is comprised of a standard road bike mounted on a steel frame to maintain a fixed position, with a generator that turns from the rotation of the rear tire. A test subject cycles the bike, which causes the rear wheel to rotate. The rear wheel rests on a spindle that is connected to the generator so when the wheel rotates, it turns the generator to create energy.

The bike is a standard road bike with 27-inch wheels and six gears. The seat is the only object on the bike that can be adjusted for varying body dimensions. For each test subject, the seat is adjusted to obtain full extension of his or her legs. The steel frame is designed to be positioned flat on the ground to maintain stability and reduce vibration and flex. It is attached to the front and rear dropouts of the bike to position it against the spindle for maximum energy transfer. The spindle is an aluminum roller wrapped in grip tape to maintain traction, and is connected to a pulley that rotates the shaft of the generator, which is mounted to the steel frame.

To properly track the power output of the generator, two factors must be tracked: the volts and the resistance. Power, in watts, equals the voltage times the current, and current equals the voltage divided by the resistance. By inserting the equation of the current into the equation of the power, the result is power equals the voltage squared divided by the resistance. Volts and resistance need to be tracked along with time to quantify the amount of energy produced. By dividing the power, in watts, by the time, in minutes, the energy output can be determined in watts per minute. Watts per minute can be converted to kilowatts per hour, which is the unit of measurement for energy used in the built environment.

If a continuous resistor is wired to the generator, then the resistance will be constant and therefore no meter is required. A volt meter is connected in parallel to measure the voltage traveling through the wire and data is recorded every fifteen seconds for a given time period. The amount of energy produced from the machine is determined by the rotational speed of the wheel and the gear ratio between the wheel and the spindle. Since the wheel is 27 inches in diameter and the spindle diameter is 1.22 inches, then the gear ratio is 22:1. The wheel speed is determined by the pedal rate of the test subject. Since this is variable, an anemometer is attached to the frame to track the revolution per minute of the wheel. To track data the three monitoring devices, the clock (seconds), volt meter (volts), and anemometer (rotations per minute) are aligned on a table to be logged accurately.

Experiment

The control group consists of two males and two females. Since the length of a person’s legs affects pedaling speed, one male and one female between the heights of 5’-0” and 5’-6” are selected, and one male and one female between the heights of 5’-7” and 6’-0” are selected. The experiment should take place within a well-ventilated enclosed space similar to an enclosed exercise environment. After the bike is adjusted to the height of the test subject, he/she will ride the cycle trainer in three different stages for five minutes each. The three different stages will be determined by the high gear, medium gear, and low gear. The test subjects will be given a ten minute break between each stage to allow their heart rate to slow down before starting the next stage. After the subject starts pedaling, the data is recorded by reading the meters every fifteen seconds and manually logging the numbers. The five results for each test will be graphed and compared to determine the machine’s ability to produce energy at different pedaling rates. The data will also be graphed collectively to compare the test subjects.

The experiment took place within the Cliff May room at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. This room was chosen for its spatial qualities so that it would aid in the exercise. The room is a well lit space with a high ceiling that draws hot air away from the ground. Three fans located on the ceiling circulate the air in the space, and along the west wall operable windows allow air to enter for proper ventilation and air quality. This environment provides a comfortable air temperature and adequate air quality, which are necessary factors for exercising. If a person operates within a warm, poorly ventilated environment, the human body can overheat and cause it to slow down. This would affect a person’s ability to function and would limit the production of energy.

The Energy Cycle is positioned in the space with surrounding clearance and oriented toward the open windows for better air quality. A table is set up next to the Energy Cycle so the meters could be connected to the equipment for monitoring. As each test subject exercised on the Energy Cycle, the author recorded the data every fifteen seconds for the duration that the test subject could operate the equipment. The array of lights was positioned against the wall between the bike and the table to illuminate the space.

Cristina Franklin

Female

Height: 6’-0”

Age: 26

Height: 6’-0”

Age: 26

7 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 161 watts. The power produced on average was 161 watts for a duration of 1 minute and 20.58 seconds. As for energy, 12,973.38 joules were generated in test 1.

Energy: 161 watts x 80.58 seconds = 12,973.38 Ws = 12,973.38 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003604 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003604 kWh

7 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 161 watts. The power produced on average was 161 watts for a duration of 1 minute and 28.38 seconds. As for energy, 14,229.18 joules were generated in test 2.

Energy: 161 watts x 88.38 seconds = 14,229.18 Ws = 14,229.18 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003953 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003953 kWh

6 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 138 watts. The power produced on average was 138 watts for a duration of 5 minutes. As for energy, 41,400.00 joules were generated in test 3.

Energy: 138 watts x 300 seconds = 41,400.00 Ws = 41,400.00 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .011500 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .011500 kWh

Mike Wilson

Male

Height: 5’-3”

Age: 26

Height: 5’-3”

Age: 26

7 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 161 watts. The power produced on average was 161 watts for a duration of 1 minute and 16.29 seconds. As for energy, 12,282.69 joules were generated in test 1.

Energy: 161 watts x 76.29 seconds = 12,282.69 Ws = 12,282.69 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003412 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003412 kWh

7 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 161 watts. The power produced on average was 161 watts for a duration of 1 minute and 5.84 seconds. As for energy, 10,600.24 joules were generated in test 2.

Energy: 161 watts x 65.84 seconds = 10,600.24 Ws = 10,600.24 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .002945 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .002945 kWh

6 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 138 watts. The power produced on average was 138 watts for a duration of 1 minute and 12.43 seconds. As for energy, 9,995.34 joules were generated in test 3.

Energy: 138 watts x 72.43 seconds = 9,995.34 Ws = 9,995.34 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .002776 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .002776 kWh

Pauli Faktor

Female

Height: 5’-1”

Age: 25

Height: 5’-1”

Age: 25

6 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 138 watts. The power produced on average was 138 watts for a duration of 53.15 seconds. As for energy, 7,334.7 joules were generated in test 1.

Energy: 138 watts x 53.15 seconds = 7,334.7 Ws = 7,334.7 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .002037 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .002037 kWh

6 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 138 watts. The power produced on average was 138 watts for a duration of 1 minute and 15.25 seconds. As for energy, 10,384.5 joules were generated in test 2.

Energy: 138 watts x 75.25 seconds = 10,384.5 Ws = 10,384.5 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .002885 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .002885 kWh

6 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 138 watts. The power produced on average was 138 watts for a duration of 1 minute and 39.15 seconds. As for energy, 13,682.7 joules were generated in test 3.

Energy: 138 watts x 99.15 seconds = 13,682.7 Ws = 13,682.7 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003801 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003801 kWh

Benjamin Rowe

Male

Height: 5’-6”

Age: 24

Height: 5’-6”

Age: 24

6 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 138 watts. The power produced on average was 138 watts for a duration of 1 minute and 34.38 seconds. As for energy, 13,024.4 joules were generated in test 1.

Energy: 138 watts x 94.38 seconds = 13,024.4 Ws = 13,024.4 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003618 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003618 kWh

6 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 138 watts. The power produced on average was 138 watts for a duration of 1 minute and 33.31 seconds. As for energy, 12,876.78 joules were generated in test 2.

Energy: 138 watts x 93.31 seconds = 12,876.78 Ws = 12,876.78 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003577 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts] [1 hour/3600 seconds] = .003577 kWh

6 bulbs were illuminated, each with a resistance of 23 watts, giving a total resistance of 138 watts. The power produced on average was 138 watts for a duration of 3 minute and 1.82 seconds. As for energy, 25,091.16 joules were generated in test 3.

Energy: 138 watts x 181.82 seconds = 25,091.16 Ws = 25,091.16 joules

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts][1 hour/3600 seconds] = .006970 kWh

13,024.4 Ws [1 kilowatt/1000 watts][1 hour/3600 seconds] = .006970 kWh

Results

Each test subject rode in the intended gear for a duration as long as his or her body could physically exercise. Each exercise was intended to run for five minutes (similar to a standard exercise sequence) but most of the tests did not last for much longer than one minute and thirty seconds. This is because of the large gear ratio of the wheel, which makes it hard to turn the generator because it is turning the generator at a high speed. The initial start of the Energy Cycle was somewhat difficult, but after the test subject reached a comfortable pedal rate, it was easy to maintain a steady pace.

The array of lights provided a visual cue of the transfer of human power and served as a motivational device for exercising because the lights dimmed when the test subject slowed down. The anemometer was intended to track the revolutions per minute of the wheel but it failed to work properly. The revolutions per minute is not a factor in calculating the power generated by the test subject, but it serves in the understanding of the rotational speed of the generator for applying the concept of energy production to other forms of exercise equipment.

Test Subject Comparison

Conclusion

After graphing the results of the experiment and comparing the four test subjects, important observations could be established. It is clear that pedaling in the low gear allows for a longer exercise; therefore, to achieve a standard exercise sequence, the gear should be even lower than the current low gear. This would turn the generator slower, producing less energy, but the subject would be able to cycle for a longer duration.

Test subject one was able to generate a higher voltage for the first two tests and was able to cycle considerably longer in the third test. The only difference from the other test subjects is in body height. Test subject one is at least six inches taller than the other test subjects. This suggests that a person’s height can affect his or her ability to produce energy.