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Friday, March 13, 2009

Calorie Power

2007 Gator alumnus, Hudson Harr, saw cardio equipment as more than calorie burners, he saw energy. And thanks to Harr’s insight and technical expertise, a work-out at UF’s Southwest Rec Center now benefits the grid as well as bodies.

Six elliptical machines at the gym have been retrofitted with Harr’s ReCardio devices. The equipment captures energy produced during a workout and uses an inverter to convert the AC power to DC, making it available to the building’s electrical grid.

Currently the inverter, about the size of a brief case, is mounted on the wall at the front of the gym. It’s subtle, too subtle for David Bowles, Director of Recreational Sports. Bowles explained that many students don’t understand the broad benefits of an intense work-out, often opting for more moderate exercise. That’s why posters are planned to go up informing students that ramped up work-outs get better results and create sustainable energy.

“We want students to know that when they increase the intensity of their workouts, they get better results physically, and they produce more energy,” explains Bowles. “It’s better use of their exercise time."

UF was the first university to use ReCardio equipment and there are plans to add more. An expansion of the Rec Center is underway and will incorporate Harr’s equipment during construction, avoiding the need to retrofit. When it opens in 2010, 36 more ellipticals, and possibly other cardio equipment, will be equipped with ReCardio devices, adding more calorie kilowatts to the Rec Center’s grid.