Jones Soda Pedal Power Project
To kick off Jones Sodas’ new “Keeping It Real” sustainability campaign we decided to celebrate by going off the electrical grid for Earth Day. How can we do this and stay in business for the day? By generating electricity through human powered bicycles of course! Sounds easy right? Sure, that’s what we thought. Pulling it off in two weeks? Piece of cake. Here’s how it all went down:
Step 1. Figure out how to make power through bicycle generated energy. We started with the internet, the best way to find information quickly. We found a great website that helped with the inspiration for our plan: www.pedalpowergenerator.com. Using this basic model as a starting point, we reached out to Dan Gross and Pierre Mourad of the UW Applied Physics Lab and Colin McFeron of local bike shop Recycle Cycles to help with the planning. After several more hours of research we designed a model that would fit within our budget and time constraints.
Step 2. Gathering the parts. Nothing shouts good weekend fun like spending your Saturday at your local car parts lot. Dan, Colin and Amanda headed up to You-Pull-It in Lynwood to gather used alternators for the project. Bringing in used alternators for the model was a great opportunity to include recycled parts into our model design. Four hours later with 12 alternators pulled, we stopped off at Olive Garden for some fine dining. We were definitely the filthiest people in the restaurant.
Following all you can eat breadsticks and cheese, we headed to the Schuck’s on Ballinger Way and met Zach and Jonathan, two incredibly helpful guys that tested all 12 of our alternators for free and hooked us up with some parts we needed in honor of Earth Day. Then we headed to Home Depot – which creepily reminds me of my childhood, to collect some other things we needed. Then we set off the to UW lab to test our goods.
Step 3. Building a prototype. Our first crack at the prototype was pretty Gerry-rigged. As you can see in the photo, we attempted to hook up a unit to test the current while spinning the alternator with the bike wheel. This attempt wasn’t able to tell us how much power we can actually generate; however, it did show that our plan will work with the correct set up. Unfortunately, at this time we didn’t have all the parts to build the first prototype. So we headed off to Teddy’s Tavern to call it a night and celebrate a hard day of work.
Coming up next: Building the Prototype Take 2.