Slow Travel: Crossing Europe with a Giant Land Ship

Belgian art collective Time Circus built their first prototype of a giant Land Ship that will travel through Europe. Like a modern-day galley, the land ship will be propelled by the muscle power of the participating travelers. The journey is understood as a 21st century pilgrimage and will take an estimated 10 years. [Read more…]

Prototype of a Hydro-Pneumatic Human Power Plant

The Human Power Plant is a working prototype of a muscular power generator, manned by a group of people. It is an all-round off-the-grid solution, which can supply energy in the form of electricity, water under pressure, and compressed air. It is built from simple and durable parts.

These days, we have automated and motorised even the smallest physical efforts. At the same time, we go to the gym to keep in shape, generating energy that’s wasted. The Human Power Plant restores the connection between physical exercise and energy use.

See and read more: The Hydro-Pneumatic Human Power Plant: How it Works. Drawing: Melle Smets.

The Most Sustainable Power Source on Earth

A human powered student room. Image: Golnar Abbasi.

  • A human can generate at least as much power as a 1m2 solar panel on a sunny day.
  • Unlike solar and wind energy, human power is always available, no matter the season or time of day. There’s little need for energy storage.
  • Unlike fossil fuels, human power can be a clean power source.
  • Unlike solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries, humans don’t need to be manufactured in a factory.
  • Unlike all other power sources, human power increases as the human population grows.
  • Human power is an all-round power source. Humans not only supply muscle power that can be converted into mechanical energy or electricity, they also produce thermal energy, especially during exercise. Finally, human waste can be converted to biogas and fertiliser.

Human power is the most sustainable power source on Earth.

Quoted from Human Power Plant, a work-in-progress by Low-tech Magazine and Melle Smets. More about the project later.

Human Powered 3D Printer

human-powered-3d-printer

The Trophy is a 3D Print Machine, consisting of an Ultimaker 3D printer and a stationary bicycle to power it. Pierre-Clement Niviere designed it to make people aware of the high energy consumption of printing a 3D-object, criticising a technology that’s usually presented as an environmentally friendly way of production. The set-up also involves the maker in the creation process, raising questions about how 3D printing is changing making.

See it in action. Previously: Mechanical 3D-printer. Thanks to Pim Rooymans.

Vertical Walking

vertical-walking-stairs“Even as our cities get more crowded and its buildings get taller, it seems that we have yet to find a more energy efficient way to navigate this high-rise environment. Right now, our options are limited to stairs, escalators, and elevators—all of which are expensive, require constant maintenance, and take up a lot of space.

Enter Rombout Labs and their concept of “vertical walking.” Their technology is designed to allow humans to move between building floors without the need for any sort of power supply, also using less effort than we would if we were using stairs, and making optimal use of available vertical space.

“By using harmonious movements and smart materials, only 10% of the effort of walking stairs is needed to bridge multiple floors. This not only provides a solution for the growing number of people who are unable to take stairs, but moreover offers new possibilities for urban architecture,” they explain on the Dutch Design Week website, where the system is currently featured.”

See & read more: New Futuristic Prototype Replaces Stairs and Elevators for ‘Vertical Walking’.

Human Powered Level Luffing Crane

level luffing lever crane 1870

“An French illustration from 1870 shows us the unusual ways in which hand-driving lifting devices were used in the period. Push carts almost two metres long were lifted to 9.2 metres by hand cranks via an 11.5 metre long luffing lever, also operated by a worker, and then pushed further along a wooden path to a tipping point. This daring construction was almost 18 metres tall.”

Find the complete illustration here. Source: “Portefeuille économique des machines, de l’outillage et du matériel“, December 1870, Bibliothèque nationale de France. Text: “The History of Cranes (The Classic Construction Series)“, Oliver Bachmann,1997.