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Playing with energy: electricity from merry-go-rounds

deseretnews via Accra Daily Mail (Ghana)
A team of Brigham Young University students has achieved a feat that has eluded soft drink and clothing manufacturers for years. They have found a way to harness the energy of youth.

Six students from BYU’s engineering department unveiled last Tuesday a playground merry-go-round that generates electricity as it spins. The goal is to provide an inexpensive, simple power source for remote school houses in developing nations.

Their prototype is the result of two semesters of intense planning, design and construction as a part of a class.

…The student team, which include four mechanical engineering majors, an industrial design major and an electrical/computer engineering major, was approached with the idea for the merry-go-round last fall by Ben Markham, a retired engineer who got the idea for the device while serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints in Ghana with his wife, Julie.

“Some of the schoolhouses we saw there were just uncomfortable and dark,” Markham said. “It’s just not conducive to learning.”

Students at BYU enthusiastically embraced the idea, but the design process proved challenging. The biggest challenge, students said, was to match the speed of the merry-go- round, which is about 10 RPM, to the speed required by the generator, at least 500 RPM.

Since transmission devices are normally designed to work in the opposite direction, from fast to slow, the team had to design their own “reverse” transmission, using a truck axle and gear wheels from an average car – a design created based on readily available in Ghana.

“You can’t buy what we have,” said Goeff J. Germane, a faculty advisor.

Germane, who has coached dozens of student-driven projects, said this one is the “most intriguing” he’s seen.

“This has the potential to benefit a lot of people in a way that they might not otherwise receive help,” he said. “Engineers really just have a desire to improve the quality of life.”

Markham has formed a non-profit organization with the hope of building the merry-go-rounds and similar playground items. Future classes at BYU and BYU-Idaho will work on swing systems and zip lines that generate electricity. The current team christened the organization Empowered Playgrounds.
(23 April 2007)

Follow up to: Nuclear reactions may produce phones’ power (LENR)
Steve Krivit, Energy Bulletin
Krivit is writing about an article that appeared in the Chicago Tribune and was reprinted in Energy Bulletin: Nuclear reactions may produce phones’ power

The term “cold fusion” was not a wise choice of words for this research in 1989, nor is it now. The hypothesis of a fusion reaction is still speculative, there are numerous anomalies reported in the research that clearly are not fusion, and then there is the Widom-Larsen Not-Fusion theory.

New Energy Times has been reporting on the Widom-Larsen theory for several years. Our comprehensive ongoing analysis of this theory can be found at

Granted, this field has no proof of providing an answer to the energy problems, however, in the long run, it may be beneficial to society, and of course, potentially lucrative to take a second look at LENR.

Most people who take a real hard look at the known alternatives to fossil fuels for the worldwide electrical baseload are terrified at the prospects, and rightly so. The facts of Peak Oil do not paint a rosy picture.

This would be an ideal time for the research to community to take a very hard look at past assumptions and start thinking about how the future residents of this planet will cope over the next half-century.

Steve Krivit
Editor, New Energy Times
(24 April 2007)

Sun Microsystems VP Dave Douglas discusses IT sector’s push for eco-responsibility
(video and transcript)
Monica Trauzzi, E&E TV
As a major contributor of emissions, the information technology sector is coming together to find ways to reduce damage to the environment and provide its customers with more energy efficient products.

During today’s OnPoint, Dave Douglas, vice president of eco-responsibility at Sun Microsystems, discusses the financial and environmental benefits for IT companies to go green. Douglas discusses the recommendations his company is making to lawmakers regarding efficiency in the technology industry. He also encourages the government to provide some clarity on future approaches to climate change so the IT industry can begin to make long-term investments.
(24 April 2007)