Far out power #2: Soap, Raindrops, Hyperloops, and Fitness Centers

Preface. Anything goes at a time when the energy crisis hasn’t even hit.

Alice Friedemann   www.energyskeptic.com  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation”, 2015, Springer, Barriers to Making Algal Biofuels, and “Crunch! Whole Grain Artisan Chips and Crackers”. Podcasts: Collapse Chronicles, Derrick Jensen, Practical Prepping, KunstlerCast 253, KunstlerCast278, Peak Prosperity , XX2 report


Soap Power

In tubes and tanks under the chassis, something very like soapy water mixed with hydrogen called sodium borohydride and similar to borax found in laundry detergent, is being tested (Steen 2002).  Of course, there are many problems why this hasn’t worked out and probably never will.

Thermal depolymerization and landfills turn garbage into biogass.  But as energy declines, there will be less and less garbage, not only because there won’t be the fuel to take it to a landfill, but people will be burning anything they can get their hands on to cook and heat with.

Raindrop power

Researchers reported that a single drop can muster 140V, or enough power to briefly light up 100 small LED bulbs. It’s far from being able to produce continuous power. This system works with drops of the same size falling from the same height and may not do as well otherwise, and degradation of surface charge may reduce the generator’s efficiency with time. Meanwhile maybe someone can build a miniature Las Vegas for mice (Delbert 2020). 

Elon Musk’s hyperloop

Not going to happen for too many reasons to list.  Just one is that because temperature ranges from 32 to 120 F, there’d need to be 6,000 expansion joints.  If even one failed, disaster. The vacuum would be released.  This 28 minute video explains this and much more at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RNFesa01llk

Fitness center power (Carbajales-Dale 2018)

Let’s harness the muscle power of 54 million fitness center members to generate electricity

It’s time to look at what we can gain from muscle power, which will have to increasingly replace fossil fuels as they decline.  This has the added bonus of helping to cope with the obesity crisis. The authors estimate that an average American has 5 pounds of excess fat, which translates to 133,000 GJ of stored energy. Using human muscle as an energy source has the added benefit of reducing heart disease, strokes, and diabetes.

Gym members comprise a large potential muscle power workforce. Over 54 million people are members of a fitness center in the U.S. where their potential electricity generating exercise is wasted. Instead, members do the opposite and consume electricity, since equipment such as treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and rowers are electric. And air conditioning to keep members cool uses additional electricity.

This study looked at how much electric power could be generated by 40 members at a gym in South Carolina.

At best, 3-5% of the gym’s average daily electricity demand could be provided at a large cost. To convert the rowing machines to generate electricity would take 33 years to pay back, perhaps longer than a rowing machine will last


Carbajales-Dale, M., et al. 2018. Human powered electricity generation as a renewable resource. BioPhysical Economics and Resource Quality.

Delbert, C. 2020. The Cool Way Scientists Turned Falling Raindrops Into Electricity. Popular Mechanics.

Steen, M. 16 Sep 2002. A squeaky clean future for the car? Reuters News Service.

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