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Human Generated Electricity for Transport, Communication and Sustainability

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Abstract and Figures

Physical activity is healthy and can-and needs to be-part of transport. On bikes and electric bikes (E-bikes), it provides kinetic energy for motion. But physical activity can also generate electricity for uses combining transport with communication and other activities. Examples of these mergers include pedal power summoning emergency air transport via the Royal Flying Doctor Service, pedal powered phone chargers at train stations and airports, and on-bike generation for lights and smartphones. However some new mergers of power generation and transport are in development, and this article discusses Shebs, or Series Hybrid Electric Bikes, alternatives to E-bikes using electricity generated on cycles for motive power. Electricity generation on cycles allows effort to be used for a range of tasks: in transport this can be where direct human power is insufficient or can't be applied easily to drive a vehicle. Examples are where long or exposed transmissions are a problem or the vehicle is self-driving. The technology is being applied to vehicles such as velomobiles which can have stability, aerodynamic, and weather protection advantages over more conventional cycles. As electric machines involving energy, E-bikes can be part of low emission networks such as DC (direct current) microgrids. These grids are fulfilling household electricity needs for lighting, charging computers and driving fans. However most E-bikes can only take power from microgrids. Series Hybrid Electric Bikes can supply them as well. This article discusses existing machines and their potential for generating energy for microgrids, and proposes a new machine designed with this purpose in mind. This paper highlights machines generating electricity through human power and contributing to transport, communication and sustainability. The technologies involved include low current DC power and new human powered vehicle designs, both becoming more important as decarbonisation of transport and economies continue.
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Australasian Transport Research Forum 2018 Proceedings
30 October 1 November, Darwin, Australia
Publication website: http://www.atrf.info
1
Human Generated Electricity for Transport,
Communication and Sustainability.
Stephen Nurse
10 Abbott Grove, Clifton Hill, Vic, Australia
Email for correspondence: cesnur@iimetro.com.au
Abstract
Physical activity is healthy and can and needs to be part of transport. On bikes and
electric bikes (E-bikes), it provides kinetic energy for motion. But physical activity can also
generate electricity for uses combining transport with communication and other activities.
Examples of these mergers include pedal power summoning emergency air transport via the
Royal Flying Doctor Service, pedal powered phone chargers at train stations and airports, and
on-bike generation for lights and smartphones. However some new mergers of power
generation and transport are in development, and this article discusses Shebs, or Series
Hybrid Electric Bikes, alternatives to E-bikes using electricity generated on cycles for motive
power.
Electricity generation on cycles allows effort to be used for a range of tasks: in transport this
can be where direct human power is insufficient or can’t be applied easily to drive a vehicle.
Examples are where long or exposed transmissions are a problem or the vehicle is self-
driving. The technology is being applied to vehicles such as velomobiles which can have
stability, aerodynamic, and weather protection advantages over more conventional cycles.
As electric machines involving energy, E-bikes can be part of low emission networks such as
DC (direct current) microgrids. These grids are fulfilling household electricity needs for
lighting, charging computers and driving fans. However most E-bikes can only take power
from microgrids. Series Hybrid Electric Bikes can supply them as well. This article
discusses existing machines and their potential for generating energy for microgrids, and
proposes a new machine designed with this purpose in mind.
This paper highlights machines generating electricity through human power and contributing
to transport, communication and sustainability. The technologies involved include low
current DC power and new human powered vehicle designs, both becoming more important
as decarbonisation of transport and economies continue.
1.Introduction and contents summary
“How to apply this muscle power to useful ends other than personal transport? How can we
develop ways…..of helping people to help themselves in rich and poor countries, by their
own efforts, without dependence on expensive oil?” From James Mcullagh, author of Human
Power (1977, p. 38).
Pedal power is a priceless asset to our fragile planet, and across the world there is a new
imaginativeness amongst many makers of cycles and accessories. From Alan Davidson,
editor of Encycleopedia (1994, p. 2).
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This article starts with background on human power in transport and non-transport tasks and
discusses systems using this power including DC microgrids. It then introduces Series Hybrid
Electric Bikes and other technologies through examples. Finally, it proposes a new cycle type
for generating and using power in DC microgrids.
2. Scope
This paper deals with the context and some mechanical aspects of Series Hybrid E-bikes for
transport and power generation. It does not cover specifics of the circuitry, voltage and
current requirements for E-bikes and other equipment
1
.
3. Background
Figure 1: a) 1865 Michaux velocipede (Bijker, 1995), b)1890’s pedal driven saw (McCullagh, 1977), c)
1937 pedal powered radio (SA state Library).
The bicycle with pedals was invented in 1865 (fig. 1a), and soon after, pedalled machines
were employed for useful work in homes. By 1892, Americans had a range of pedalled and
treadled machines (fig. 1b) available for sawing, turning metal, sewing and grinding (Bijker,
1995, 27, McCullagh 1977, 28-35) However in the 1920’s in developed countries, grid
electricity made electric appliances common, and pedalled machines for domestic use became
less popular (Pearsall, 1973, 172).
In the different context of more remote areas, however, pedalled machines remained vital.
Alfred Traeger invented the pedal wireless in Adelaide in 1927. It was vital in outback
Australia, where summoning air ambulances or consulting expert medical help saved lives in
the bush. The radios also helped educate children via the School of the Air and help alleviate
isolation. As smartphones have progressed today to simplify and enable different modes of
communication, the pedal wireless progressed from sending morse code messages, to sending
typed messages to voice communication (SA State Library 2006).
By the 1970’s, there was a growing awareness that human power could play important roles
in transport and domestic life, and help relieve emerging ecological crises. Inventions related
to human power proliferated, with James McCullagh (1977) promoting appropriate use of
human power for transport, homes and farms.
1
Some electronics hardware design notes for E-bikes are provided in Raghunath (2014), and
Lovatt and coauthors (2011) provide design procedures for electric vehicle drivetrains.
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Figure 2: Human powered machines as shown in McCullagh: a) Oxtrike freight trike, b) aerodynamic
recumbent bicycle, c) Bik-o-generator to generate electricity or power a grain mill directly
Other 1970’s developments included Victor Papanek’s hand cranked fridge and cycle designs
including a bike with a sturdy rear rack doubling as a stand and power takeoff (1972, p. 168,
224). In 1975 International Human Powered Vehicle Association started promoted racing of
streamlined recumbents (Kyle 2005).
Figure 3: Cycle rack by Michael Crotty & Jim Rothrock which rotates about the wheel axle to double as
a stand and power takeoff, a) as cycle rack, b) as power take-off, c) component parts (Papanek, 1972)
The 1990s saw commercialisation of these ideas with manufacturers across E-bike, load bike,
recumbent bike, and recumbent trike styles featured in the Encycleopedia Book series
(Davidson 1994, 1996). Two technologies proposed during the 1990’s and coming into use
today are the Series Hybrid Electric Bike and the front hub gearbox cycle.
Andreas Fuchs and Jurg Blatter championed the series hybrid E-bike, a form of chainless
bicycle, and in 1998 introduced the technology as a way of simplifying transmissions. Their
electric assist all weather velomobile had four chains and 2 planetary gearboxes and was
heavy at 127kg. As a reaction to that vehicle, they saw having compact, separate,
weatherproof generator, drivemotor and battery, and generating electricity cycles as a
practical solution for motive power on light vehicles (Fuchs and Blatter, 1998). Figure 4
shows their prototype series hybrid alongside a modern production version.
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Figure 4: Series Hybrid Electric Bikes, a) by Fuchs and Blatter (Fuchs and Blatter 1998) and by Bike2 in
2018 (Bike2.dk)
Almost concurrently, Thomas Kretschmer proposed a modern return to the front wheel drive
chainless bicycles which dominated cycle traffic as boneshakers or penny farthings from
1865 to 1884 (Bijker, 1995, 71). His proposal included a front-wheel-housed-gearbox
providing pedalling-to-wheel-speed-ratios from 1:1 to 1:4.5. This gearbox replaced the
derailleur gearing used on todays bicycles to help cyclists pedal efficiently in different
conditions (refer Appendix 1). This configuration allows for an ergonomic pedalling
position, and the geared front wheel can be part of a modular range of vehicles. This cycle
layout is now coming into production as the Kervelo and is reimagined as part of a DC
microgrid at the end of this paper (Kretschmer 1999, 1999a, Kervelo 2018).
Figure 5: Front wheel drive gearbox cycles: 1999 Kretschmer prototype, 2017 Kervelo e-assist delta trike
with electric motor on visible rear wheel. (Kretschmer 1999a, kervelo.com)
Along with these transport and human power developments we have had advances in
electronics, communication, appliances, and generating of electricity for domestic use.
Technologies as diverse as led lighting, laptop computers, solar power, smartphones, 3d
printers, fans and fridges (Taufik 2010) can now all make use of or contribute to DC power in
self-sufficient networks microgrids (fig. 6.).
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Figure 6, DC microgrid with pedalling as power source (from Taufik 2010, Fuchs 2008)
These DC microgrids encompass many technologies, often permanently located and spread
throughout a home or village, however smaller relocatable grids for power generation and use
are becoming common. For example, Wewatt from Belgium make pedalled mobile phone
chargers that can be located at stations or airports to bring practical, healthy, static, off bike
exercise to the time spent waiting for transport. As well, on-bike dynamo systems for
powering lights are now used to power devices including smartphones. These small DC grids
made by power generation are examples of self-sufficiency in electrical supply, and
contribute to sustainability (abc 2017, St. Kilda Cycles 2018).
Figure 7, Self-sufficiency: a) Brisbane Airport phone chargers from We-Watt, b) Dynamo equipped
touring bicycles (abc 2017, author’s photo)
Conventional bike generators make power for ancillary purposes, but the generation of power
in series hybrid E-bikes and similar machines can also be for on-bike-motive, and on-and-off-
bike-ancillary purposes as shown in fig. 8 (Fuchs 2008).
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Figure 8: Energy flows in bicycle, Parallel Hybrid E-bike and Series Hybid E-bike (from Fuchs 2008,
Fuchs 2014)
4. Application and Efficiency
Tanjimul Patowary and coauthors researched the use of human power in microgrids (2016)
and made practical devices for delivering DC power from cycle technology. They concluded
that villagers who use bicycles in this way could benefit the most. Phadke (2017) considers
25W of solar energy sufficient to supply electricity to modernize a house, and
greenmicrogym advertise delivering 30W of energy with their adaptable cycle generating
system (greenmicrogym 2018). Wilson (2004, p. 44) indicates that healthy males can sustain
cycling outputs of 100W for more than 3 hours, and McCullagh (1977, p. 38) considers 75W
a reasonable figure for sustained output. These figures indicate that even with low-cost
components achieving 65% efficiency (of human power converted to electricity
2
) cycling
technology can contribute at least 50W
3
to DC microgrids (Wilson 2004, p. 338).
Creating electricity by pedalling can be inefficient in terms of energy transformation from
food to useable power (ebikereview.com 2016, Lemire-Elmore 2004), however sometimes
inefficiency doesn’t matter and effectiveness does. When human effort gives necessary,
voluntary and healthy exercise, the energy supply is free, and can be made effective by
enabling modern necessities and conveniences (Braungart 2002 p.72). Both Taufik (2010)
and Patowary (2016) mention inermittancy of solar and other renewable energy sources as
reasons for including human powered inputs to DC microgrids.
The technology might not be best applicable in modern cities, however in the context of more
remote areas relying on microgrids, series hybrid cycles could provide sustainable solutions
for energy, transport and modernisation.
2
Note that when generating power for microgrids, the efficiencies of series hybrids do not include motor
efficiencies. From Wilson 2004, generating efficiency with low cost components is 0.7 x 0.98 x 0.95 x 100%.
3
Approx. 65% of 75W
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4. Series hybrids low power cycles
Figure 9: Series Hybrid Cycles: a) Fuchs bicycle prototype, b) Fuchs tadpole trike, c) gilgen quadracycle
(Fuchs 1998, 2008)
In 1998 Andreas Fuchs and Jurg Blatter promoted series hybrid electronic bicycles, or shebs,
or nonpositive drive bicycle, with energy transferred from pedals to driven wheels via
electricity and electronics. As shown in figure 8, this contrasts with standard parallel hybrid
E-bikes where human power and motors drive wheels directly and concurrently (Fuchs 1998,
Fuchs 2014, Wilson 2004, p. 337).
Series hybrid energy transfer eliminates mechanical connections and stresses between pedals
and wheels which can be awkward in boats, multirider or enclosed vehicles, or with electrical
inputs such as solar charging (Nurse 2018, Liegfiets 2017). It is estimated that with modern
components, overall efficiencies could reach 80 percent, ie 80% of the power generated at the
pedals could reach the wheels as mechanical energy. This overall efficiency consists of
controller, generator and motor efficiencies (Wilson 2004, p. 338).
Fuchs made three wheel shebs and promoted four wheel cycles from gilgen.com. These
multi-track vehicles have static stability, allowing the cycles to be pedalled to charge batteries
even when stopped. In general, shebs allow riders to pedal at optimum pedal revolutions of
60 - 80 rpm without interuptions for gearchanges (Fuchs 2008, Mcullagh 1977, p. 37, Wilson
2004, p. 339).
Figure 10: Mando IM cycle, Bike2 equipped cycle, Bike2 generator in Sunrider velomobile (Mando
website, Bike2 website)
Several companies now manufacture series hybrid cycle technology including Mando from
Korea and Bike2 from Denmark. Mando are a large automotive parts firm and make the
0.25kw Footloose folding bike and non-folding Footloose IM. The design of the Footloose
bikes make them a closed or completed design, leaving little room for user customisation or
modification. One reviewer needed to suggest a workaround as a way of installing a rear
rack and was disappointed with the finicky pedal mounted stand (electricbikereview.com
2015 , Jencks & Silver 1972, p. 42)
Bike2 take a different approach, and make series hybrid bicycle components. Their website
shows cycles incorporating a 0.75 kw motor, and frame mounted generators.
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Figure 11: a) Sunrider 4 and b) Podbike velomobiles with series hybrid drives (Bike2 , Liegfiets).
One of these cycles is the Sunrider 4 velomobile from Alligt which replaces the long,
standard velomobile transmission chain with electrical wires, possibly simplifying
maintenance (Bike2 website 2018, Liegfiets 2017). Another series hybrid velomobile under
development is the Podbike from Norway. Podbike promise to make future versions of the
Podbike autonomous and have developed the Podbike Garage, a lockable solar-powered
charging, parking and storage facility (Podbike 2018).
It is important to note that the motor in series hybrids provides the entire motive force for the
vehicle and is not assisted by human power. Therefor the motor can feel underpowered if it
has the standard Australian E-bike power limit of 250W (Ebikereview 2015). Fuchs (2014)
recommends that a series hybrid E-bike motor have twice the power of an equivalent standard
ebike motor.
5. Serial hybrids other transport uses
Figure 12: Kronfeld Raht Racer (Kronfeldmotors.com)
As well as low powered vehicles, series hybrid technology is under development for high
speed trikes and human powered paragliders. Kronfeld motors are developing the Raht Racer
series hybrid trike which is aerodynamic, gets 1/5 of its energy from human power and is
capable of 144 kph. The human energy input is useful for extending its battery range from
120k without pedalling to 160k with pedalling (kronfeldmotors.com 2018).
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Figure 13: a) Thomas Senkel with series hybrid trike, b) prototype pedal assisted recumbent bike /
paraglider, c) electric scooter / paraglider (Senkel 2014, 2017, 2016).
Thomas Senkel has made and publicised a sheb trike, and has successfully tested a fully-
electric combined scooter and paraglider. His series-hybrid pedal assisted cycle and
paraglider is still under development and has separate motors powering the rear wheel and
propeller. This vehicle’s drivetrain shows series hybrid technology’s ability to supply
multiple motors mounted at awkward angles.
Senkel uses youtube videos to show his research and has had 4 million views of his Skyrider,
scooter and paraglider video. Vi Vuong is another transport innovator using youtube to good
effect, showing and sharing inventions, and possibly earning money in the process (Senkel
2014, 2016, 2017, Nurse 2016, Vuong 2018).
6. Cycles for DC Power Generation
Standalone units for DC Power are sold commercially for use on yachts and charging phones
in emergency situations (k-tor.com 2018) . However E-bikes configured to produce power
exist, and others with regenerative braking (such as Bionx equipped ebikes) can be set up to
produce power.
Series hybrid cycles can charge their own battery through pedalling, and could also be
configured to supply DC to microgrids, with advantages of efficient pedalling position and
power conversion.
Table 1 shows real and hypothetical cycles for microgrid power generation, and describes the
required setups, which should be inbuilt or innate if possible. Line 6 proposes a recumbent,
load carrying, series hybrid trike with uses including DC power generation. It is described
further in Appendix 2.
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Table1 : Human powered machines for power generation
Generator Type
Conditions for Generation
Description
Photo / Sketch
Links
Generat
or can
rotate.
No rolling
forward.
Balance
Steering
Lock
Comments
1. Established
Ebike, rear
wheel regen
motor for grid
& battery
charging
Greenmicr
ogym
2018
Stand
lifts rear
Wheel
Rear
Wheel
Stand
Rear
Wheel
Stand
Not
Applicable
Upright for
desk and
computer
work.
Existing setup
2. Proposed
Makita Ebike,
rear wheel
drive,
batteries also
used in lights,
radios etc.
Trayon.co
m 2018
Stand
required
to lift
back
wheel
Rear
Wheel
Stand
Rear
Wheel
Stand
Not
Applicable
Example
ecosystem for
non-transport
energy use.
3. Proposed
Mando IM
series hybrid
as generator
cycle.
Mandofoo
tloose.co
m 2018
Innate
Use stand
or brake
front or
rear wheel
Stand for
front or
rear wheel
Not
Applicable
Example
series hybrid
as generator
cycle.
4. Proposed
tadpole trike,
chain driven
rear wheel
drive with
Bionx regen
motor, 4
software
controlled
regen levels
Electricbi
kereview.
com 2017
, electric
bike.com
2013
Stand
required
to lift
back
wheel
Rear
Wheel
Stand or
front
brakes on
Innate
Not
Applicable
Example,
relaxed
supported
position.
5. Bike2
Generator
module in
appropriate
static or
rolling
machine
Ebiketips2
016
Innate
Innate
Innate
Not
Applicable
Integrate into
microgrids
with
appropriate
controller
6. Proposed
delta trike
series hybrid,
pedal input to
front wheel
generator,
output from
concentric
regen. motor.
Appendix
2
Innate
Strap front
wheel or
use rear
brakes.
Innate
Strap front
wheel.
Relaxed
supported
position, no
stands needed
to generate
power,
optimized
power
generation
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8: Conclusion:
Series Hybrid Electronic Bikes could form useful components of DC microgrids, offering
mobile, high efficiency, ergonomic human powered charging to complement or cover for the
intermittency of solar and wind power. They have great potential in a range of hybrid human
/ electric powered vehicles including applications where mechanical drivetrains are awkward,
and load haulers, bikes, trikes, high speed velomobiles and boats. Consideration should be
given to supplying series hybrid technology in the form of kits, and not only as completed
cycles, allowing design diversity to flourish. In high powered series hybrids, human power
can be useful in extending distances between charges.
Today, the do-more with less philosophical sentiments from the opening quotes have become
more like imperatives, as countries strive to modernize while reining in pollution and carbon
dioxide emissions, and as we struggle to remain usefully active in the face of increased
mechanisation.
9. Acknowledgements
I would like to thank Mehran Ektesabi and Saman Gorji from Swinburne University for their
help writing this paper. In particular, Saman provided information on E-bike electronics.
Appendix 1.
Table 2: Gear ratios and pedalling speeds for bicycle with 650mm diameter / approx. 2m circumference
rear wheel. Low gear ratios are used to overcome high resistive forces, ie pedalling uphill or into
headwinds. Complete equations quantifying forces on cycles are provided in Van De Walle (2004)
Appendix 2. A Cycle for DC Power generation
A cycle for DC power generation should be able to generate power with high efficiency, a
good pedalling position, little setup time, and little or no auxiliary equipment. To generate
power the cycle must be stable and the mechanisms used to generate power (ie rear wheel
motor, line 1, table 1) must be free to move.
rpm rps Chainring teeth Sprocket teeth Ratio m/s kph
60 148 48 1 2.0 7.4
80 1.33 48 48 1 2.7 9.8
60 148 24 2 4.1 14.7
80 1.33 48 24 2 5.4 19.6
60 148 16 3 6.1 22.1
80 1.33 48 16 3 8.1 29.3
60 148 12 4 8.2 29.4
80 1.33 48 12 4 10.9 39.1
Pedalling speed
Gearing
Speed
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Figure 14: Proposed series hybrid delta trike for power generation. Red component represents a
removable strap to stop rolling and for steering lock, see fig. 15 for hub detail.
Fig. 14 shows a proposed cycle to meet these criteria. It includes a pedal shaft surrounded by
a generator and motor, all mounted in the front wheel hub. A velcro strap could suffice to
keep the front wheel stationary when pedalling the cycle as a generator. This design has
similarities to the purely mechanical cycle design proposed by Thomas Kretschmer 20 years
ago and now coming into production through Kervelo cycles as shown in fig. 5. The complex
front hub could be complemented by simple, modular rear sections to make trikes, bikes and
cargo hauling vehicles (Kretschmer 1999). Solar panels and DC powered tools and
equipment could also be included.
A proposal for the front hub of this cycle is shown in fig. 15. It contains the motor and
generator of a series hybrid cycle, with batteries and controllers housed elsewhere. The hub
includes a flat planetary gearset to step up the rotation of the generator by a factor of (180mm
/ 30mm = ) 6 compared to the pedals.
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Figure 15: Proposed pedaled generator / motor hub.
This hub could be designed for multiple configurations, such as without motor components in
a machine solely for DC power generation, or as the rear hub of a bicycle with a chain driven
input. This flexibility is a respecting of diversity (Braungart 2002, p. 118) and allows the hub
to be mounted in a number of ways, for instance letting the pedaller sit at a desk and work
while generating power as shown in Table 1 line 1.
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... Other technologies which could improve velomobiles include hydrogen fuel cells which have been researched by the University of New South Wales and the German Fraunhofer Institut (Aguey-Zinsou, 2015, Fraunhofer 2019), and series hybrid electric drivetrains (Nurse 2018, Fuchs 2014. These technologies are out of scope. ...
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This article discusses future transport emphasizing the aerodynamic cycles called velomobiles. Along with bicycles and ebikes, velomobiles are low energy transport which could displace cars as our commonly owned vehicles. Velomobiles are discussed in the light of emerging 3d printing, solar and structural battery technologies which could allow them and other cycles to be more useful and go further for less energy. Development and use of these technologies in velomobiles would benefit transport options and the technologies themselves, allowing beneficial and practical demonstrations in practical machines. Velomobiles using new technologies could be simpler and more relatable than cars and aeroplanes using the same technologies. The article aims to promote velomobiles and emerging solar, battery, and 3d printing technologies through their use in velomobiles. It highlights Australian researchers and manufacturers. Discussion includes the author's electric leaning trike which has timber panels replaceable by panels containing batteries or solar cells.
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