A team of four engineering students develops a self-powered treadmill
Bangalore: Can a motorised treadmill run without using electricity? Yes, say students of M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology.
Four final year mechanical engineering students have converted a manual self-powered treadmill into a motorised treadmill, which can generate power. It was their final year project and, they were guided by S.V. Prakash. The project won the first prize in `Yantrotsav 2006,' a competition organised by the Society of Mechanical Engineering on May 25.
Ravishankar A., who was part of the team that designed the motorised treadmill, said the project was the brainchild of Prof. Prakash. "Our professor hit upon the idea after he visited the U.S. Upon his return, three of my friends Rahul, Ravi and Rahul P. and I worked on the project," he said.
The objective of the project was to incorporate all the advantages of a motorised treadmill without using power to make it as inexpensive as a manual treadmill and make it eco-friendly.
"The treadmill is the most popular gym and home fitness equipment. Of the available treadmills, 90 per cent are motorised," he said.
Mr. Ravishankar said that when a person runs on a treadmill he or she loses calories, a form of energy that goes waste. This energy can be used to run the treadmill motor. "A motorised treadmill uses around 1.5 kW of power. We can conserve that much energy through the inexpensive and eco-friendly motorised treadmill," he said.
The treadmill designed by the students does not require a circuit board that converts alternate current into direct current for the operation of the motor to run on inverters and other devices. The machine has a console, which operates on the power generated by the treadmill itself. The console allows the user to control the speed and other functions and gives feedback to the user about the elapsed time, step count, heart rate, calories burned and so on.
"Energy is generated as the dynamo coupled with the pulley that is attached to the front roller of the treadmill rotates. This energy gets stored in the battery that is attached to the dynamo. Energy from the battery is again utilised by the motor, which runs on rollers making an ordinary treadmill function like a motorised one," Mr. Ravishankar said.
He said that through this mechanism the energy lost when people exercise on treadmills and cycling equipment in fitness centres could be stored in the batteries, which could be used for lighting and to charge laptops and cell phones.