University of Kansas to use student workouts to power fitness center

Sweat rolls down the young woman's neck. She pedals and pedals, grimaces, wipes her face, sips from the plastic bottle. And pedals and pedals.

She scans the elliptical exercise machine's little readouts: miles (Is that all?); time elapsed (No, calves, we can't quit now); calories burned (What? Just half a cheeseburger?); voltage ….

Huh? Voltage?

A workout at a University of Kansas gym soon will be more than a workout.

Cables running from the machines' spinning wheels to a converter box will let students pump juice onto the grid.

Their ample calories will be sluiced into kilowatts, helping to power the lights and laptops at work in the Ambler Student Recreation and Fitness Center.

"It is so basic," said Mary Chappell, center director. "Crazy cool" is the term of the guy who had the light bulb go on.

Each of the 15 machines is expected to generate about eight watts per hour. The fitness center is open at least 15 hours a day.

If all the machines were put through a 30-minute workout, it would mean enough clean energy to power a TV for 15 minutes or a laptop for an hour or a compact fluorescent light bulb for more than two, according to SunQuest, the Florida-based firm making the ReRev devices that trap and reroute the kinetic energy.

"I'm told that using our 15 machines all day can produce enough energy to power a small apartment for an entire day," Chappell said.

To read the complete article, visit

Related stories from McClatchy DC