SPARKLE bikes charge GVSU

GVL / Eric Coulter
GVSU student Briana Vanderwege uses the energy creating bike SPARKLE

Eric Coulter

GVL / Eric Coulter GVSU student Briana Vanderwege uses the energy creating bike SPARKLE

Molly Waite

Students, faculty and staff at Grand Valley State University will now be able to create their own usable electricity by riding the new SPARKLE bike in the Allendale Fieldhouse.

SPARKLE (Spinning Physical And Renewable Kinetic Living Energy) is an exercise bike created by the Michigan Alternative and Renewable Energy Center with the help of the School of Engineering that is designed to produce and store energy when used.

“By riding a modern-day trek bicycle, the wheel spins a motor that creates or produces electricity which is stored in a battery pack,” said John Kilbourne, a GVSU movement science professor. “Fully charged, the battery pack can be used to power any electric appliance. It can charge cell phones, laptops and iPods. It can run a television and when it is fully charged, (and) it could jump-start a car.”

Kilbourne said that the project, which began about five years ago, was originally based at MAREC, but he and others working on it decided that it would be best to get SPARKLE out into the community.

The bike was placed in the cardio section of the recreation center in the Allendale Fieldhouse, and designers now plan to put another bike on the Holland GVSU campus and to create a third that will be taken to local schools in order to teach young kids about the importance of health and fitness and renewable energy.

SPARKLE is a teaching tool that will show young people not just about renewable energy, but also health and fitness,” Kilbourne said. “I think most students are appreciative of this project, because they know that this is their future.”

SPARKLE has received positive comments from students, said Kate Harmon, facilities manager of the Fieldhouse. Most students are just looking at it right now, but Harmon has generally heard students like the idea.

Bart Bartels, project manager of the Sustainable Community Development Initiative at GVSU, said that he also thinks the project is important.

“The work that goes into energy generation creates an awareness of consumption, providing accountability for usage,” he said.

Kilbourne predicts that the Fieldhouse will eventually be a completely self-sustainable center with all of the equipment being used to create and store energy.

“All of that human energy is just going to waste,” he said. “If you can capture that energy, you would have a tremendous amount of energy. From the spinning classes alone, the energy produced could power an entire room’s electricity.

“My generation has not put this planet in very good order, so I want to help the next generation find a better path,” he added.

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