Hong Kong Gym Powers Lights with Treadmills

A health club in Hong Kong has figured out how to harness the energy created by gym rats running on treadmills and trudging up Stairmasters. The club is using that energy to power some of the gym's lights.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

LYNN NEARY, host:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Lynn Neary.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that a health club in Hong Kong has figured out how to harness the energy generated on their treadmills and stairmasters and rowing machines and put it to useful purposes. The club has rigged up its exercise machines to a battery, which in turn powers the gym's lights, so members can feel they are not just keeping fit and looking good, but doing their part to save the world, one pair of lycra-clad legs at a time. Exercisers who run, climb and row in place at this Hong Kong club can generate enough power to run three TV sets and five 60-watt bulbs, enough for flattering light and the choice of CNN, professional wrestling or reruns of "Friends."

Harnessing human muscle is not a new idea. The first telephones were hand cranked. And there were hand cranked flashlights and radios. We even sell some on our Web site. But there are some new products that use activities already in motion, like walking and exercising, to generate energy. They're called parasitic generators. For example, there's a shoe that converts the motion of walking into electricity, and a Dutch firm is building a dance floor that stores the energy created by those jumps, bumps and grinds and uses it to light the floor.

Al Gore may have won an Oscar last weekend for his documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," but we doubt he could have thought that one up.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.