Next week, five energy converting workout bikes, knows as visCycles, will be installed in UCSB’s Recreational Center.
Typical gym equipment runs on electricity, and the energy generated from working out is converted into heat and expelled. However, the new Rec Cen bikes will not operate off of electricity, and the kinetic energy produced from student workouts on these bikes will be fed into the main campus power grid.
Second-year chemical engineering major Elisa Ovadia and alumna Julie Castro used a grant they received from UCSB’s Green Initiative Fund to purchase the bikes.
“We chose the visCycle bikes since they harness an untouched source of energy — human energy — and convert it into electricity,” Ovadia said. “The power you generate while working out on the bikes is directly plugged out into the power grid, thus electrically powering UCSB’s campus.”
Because the bike screens will also provide energy and environmental facts, Castro said, cycling at the Rec Cen will make learning interactive.
“Students can physically convert electricity that ‘plugs-out’ to the grid and really see the process before them,” she said in an e-mail. “Hopefully, the bicycles will provide a gateway to an energy-environment education in an unlikely place and reach students who might not have otherwise been interested.”
Ovadia also said using the machines will help students become environmentally conscious.
“The bikes will be a tangible reminder for people to use less energy on a daily basis while producing energy at the same time,” Ovadia said.
The revolutionary visCycles have become an important topic in academia. In fact, environmental studies professor Melvyn Manalis will dedicate a portion of his ES 115 – Energy and the Environment course to the bicycles’ environmental significance.
The visCycles will make their debut at the Rec Cen’s annual Fun and Fitness Festival on Sept. 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. In addition to a lecture from visCycle creator and Green Microgym CEO Adam Boesel, the event will feature tables from over 80 different campus groups, prizes and free food.