Ariel Schwartz

Hybrid Squared: Ingenious Energy-Generating Bike Rental System

by , 07/15/09
filed under: Green Transportation

chiyu chen, bike, biking, kinetic energy, transportation, green design, sustainable design, hybrid2 system

Designer Chiyu Chen has conceived of an ingenious transit system that encourages the use of sustainable transportation by crediting people for renting and riding bicycles. His Hybrid2 system consists of a fleet of rentable bicycles that are capable of generating and storing kinetic energy, which is then used to power the city’s hybrid electric buses. Simply rent a bike, charge it up with kinetic energy from pedal power, and then return it to a kiosk – the station feeds energy into the city’s smart grid, and you receive a credit towards your next bus pass!

chiyu chen, bike, biking, kinetic energy, transportation, green design, sustainable design, hybrid2 system

The core of Hybrid2 is Chen’s regenerative braking system for bikes, dubbed “Hybrake”, which allows riders to generate and store energy from braking and normal biking in an ultracapacitor. In Chen’s vision, the more energy a bicyclist generates, the more monetary credit they are given to use on public transportation.

The designer also proposes a solar-powered bike stand outfitted with an RFID card reader to lock and unlock bikes. Personal ID cards will be used to store credit gained from biking for future bus rides, and the whole thing is tied together with a hookup to transfer energy from bikes to the smart grid. Sounds like an ingenious plan for any city trying to reduce traffic congestion!

+ Chiyu Chen

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12 Comments

  1. fanatixx November 25, 2009 at 7:00 am

    The thing is, there is no solution to get bikes to power cars. The thing as a designer to learn here, is to be inquisitive and ask people who know how energy works if you are designing an energy solution. Of course, if the scope of this project is to design something cool which belongs in a fantasy world then its fine.

    But it is not ingenious in the real world, it is not the future. Its not negative, its just being real. I would be soo happy if this could work! How about an antigravity ship, you sort of just float and then paddle through the air, that would be awesome too!! The physics of the world is not something we can help improve upon. The physics are ground rules – sad, I know!!! =(

    Let me explain:
    You know how much energy it takes to pedal yourself? Yes, that is the actual energy consumed to transport a human plus the bike. A car weighs about ten times this mass, so the energy needed will be tenfold. Also there is no way to extract more than say 5 % more energy from the biking, the biker will feel like hes riding uphill when its flat due to the resistance needed to harvest the energy. My bike can generate electricity fir the front light, and that feels like a brake the whole time. How many light are there on a car?

    Ask questions. Is this feasible? Is it important for me that it is feasible? What is the goal of this project?

    I like this concept for questioning the services relating to transport, and hopefully people can also learn throught these sometimes brash comments.

  2. marmkid October 11, 2009 at 5:48 pm

    i love how all we get are negative responses to someone’s idea without actually offering any constructive criticism to help make an idea better

    rather than give the guy some credit for an idea, all that anyone ever throws out is “Do the Math”

    perhaps if it is so incredibly hard to pedal a bike and generate any power, maybe helping to find a solution that allows this problem to be fixed? Unless everyone is so incredibly positive that there will never be a way to produce energy from a bicycle at all…ever? I somehow doubt that

    If any energy at all is produced, this idea would be a success. He isnt claiming to eliminate the need for gas in the world
    It is a way that potentially could chip away at the amount of gas needed

    Rather than bashing him for not having a working model to prove his idea, help improve it?

    Architects can be so cynical at times, and just seem to want to point out any flaw anywhere

  3. Cassady July 18, 2009 at 12:41 am

    There are some genuinely useful things designers can do like making medium density living more pleasant, but this idea makes sending energy down from space with lasers look sensible. Climate change is going to be an expensive enough problem with out supporting designers egos along the way.

  4. Anarch July 17, 2009 at 11:33 pm

    Hi there

    Re the following:

    The ’skeptics’ here are correct. If you do the science and the math there is no way that human power can generate appreciable excess energy on a bike. The energy required to move the bike is all that a human is going to be willing to generate.

    As one poster said, the same money would be far more beneficial in solar cells. The generate energy for free. They do not require food being fed to humans to get it.

    On another note, The amount of money required for food calories (consumer cost) to pedal a bicycle a mile is about 150 times as much as the amount of money (consumer cost) required to provide electricity to power a bicycle a mile. DO THE MATH !

    HMMMM…THE MATH…

    One of the many problems we have is the sad state of so-called economics (he con oh me?) where costs are hidden by the sad state of those who still think of the natural world as ‘resources’ which do not come at a cost or the savings involved in intangibles. What for instance is the economic benefit of the cyclist? Reduced costs to the health system? Increased benefit to the workplace as the cyclist arrives with an oxygenated body instead of a sluggish and possibly aggressive attitude after driving in trafic? Reduced greenhouse footprint by not driving? Reduced long term costs to the national health system due to inceased health over many years? What is the cost of the electricity above used to power the bicycle? Increased greenhouse footprint? Increased costs associated with mining and transporting the coal burnt to generate the electricity? Increased costs in the transport of the electricity to the user? What of the cost of the ‘food calories’? If vegetable from the supermarket then the oxygen produced by the plant during its lifespan? The fuel costs in growing, processing, transporting the food to the consumer? If vegetable from the backyard, what cost savings in reduced transport, processing etc? And the cost of the bicycle itself – metal, plastic, oils, synthetic tyres? Costs over the lifespan of the bicycle itself? Costs associated with eventual disposal, or savings after eventual recycling?
    The math is getting to be quite a complex equation.

  5. nacoran July 17, 2009 at 4:50 pm

    If it only generated power from regenerative brakes it wouldn’t be too bad, but I don’t want to have to pedal harder to go where I want to go. If they put some solar panels up above the bike racks and added power assist to the bikes it might be a useful low energy/lower infrastructure solution. The trick isn’t, at least for reducing traffic, to get rid of the long haul driver, but giving people an option other than getting back into their cars for the medium and short trips that are a little too long for walking.

  6. boydil3 July 17, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    The “designer” has obviously never ridden a bicycle with regenerative braking. This wonderful design will never make it past the dreaming stages of the typical airhead.

  7. johnny36544 July 17, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    The ‘skeptics’ here are correct. If you do the science and the math there is no way that human power can generate appreciable excess energy on a bike. The energy required to move the bike is all that a human is going to be willing to generate.

    As one poster said, the same money would be far more beneficial in solar cells. The generate energy for free. They do not require food being fed to humans to get it.

    On another note, The amount of money required for food calories (consumer cost) to pedal a bicycle a mile is about 150 times as much as the amount of money (consumer cost) required to provide electricity to power a bicycle a mile. DO THE MATH !

  8. chrisp68 July 16, 2009 at 9:18 pm

    Well said rg and even better rharris. Apparently designers are like children playing engineers with free energy (and money) What NEEDS to happen is to hook up a stationary bike to peoples tv’s. That way the only way to watch tv is to exercise. No pedal power, no Jerry Springer!

  9. woodypounder July 16, 2009 at 6:23 pm

    You sceptics are the ones who will die first when the climate starts to change and you’re too late to adapt.

    Darwinian dunces.

  10. rharris115 July 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    This is just silly. Perhaps they could power the buses with hamster cages!

  11. rgwilliams July 16, 2009 at 9:24 am

    bad design that won’t work. this energy, with the exception of braking energy, isn’t free. riding these bikes will be much harder if they are going to generate any significant energy. the average human power output is around 150 watts, for the cost of adding the generator and the ultracapcitor banks to the bikes, plus the power electronics to transfer the stored energy to the grid, you could buy a solar panel and grid tie inverter that produce more power and operates whenever there is sunlight.

    designers should learn some engineering before they pretend to be engineers.

  12. mnmdesignlab July 15, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    Nice design and features!

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