Library paddles for power

2016-06-07 06:00
 Sinovuyo Mlanbisa tries out a prototype to produce electricity by peddling.  PHOTO: nicole mccain

Sinovuyo Mlanbisa tries out a prototype to produce electricity by peddling. PHOTO: nicole mccain

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In a first for South Africa, the Masiphumelele Library is peddling its way toward resource sustainability.

A project installing peddle power stations at the library was launched on Thursday 2 June.

The two stations use the human energy exerted by the person peddling to turn a generator.

This in turn creates electricity which is fed through a power point to any appliance with a plug.

The electricity created can be used to charge laptops and cellphones, lights and even boil a kettle.

Across continentsThe product was based on a European model seen by Yasmina Morean Sabafini, a French national. The product was placed in public places in Europe and allowed anyone to charge their phone or laptop.

Having visited and worked in South Africa for a short period, Morean Sabafini immediately decided a similar product would be perfect as a local community project.

Morean Sabafini teamed up with Immo Boehning, an engineering student at the University of Achtun in Germany, and it took almost two years to have the prototypes developed and installed.

The project will be installed in three communities, of which Masiphumelele was the first.

The library received a solar panel on Thursday, which will work in tandem with the peddle prototypes to boost the electricity output from human power, Morean Sabafini says.

Educating youthThe peddle power generators are also a way to educate the youth in the area on renewable energy alternatives and make them aware of their electricity consumption, Morean Sabafini says.

“Just charging a phone takes lots of energy in cycling,” she says.

The project also looks to promote awareness of health benefits of using bicycles as an alternative form of transport, .

“Maybe we’ll soon be off the grid,” says head librarian Sue Alexander. “We’re delighted to have this in our library.”

Morean Sabafini and Boehning will return to Europe after installing another two pilot projects, and Morean Sabafini hopes the generators will be embraced by locals.

“They were paid for with European funding, but that isn’t really sustainable,” Morean Sabafini says.

“We have taken time off to come and install these, but we must return to Europe. We hope South Africans will now take this forward and develop a sustainable project.”

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