Difference between revisions of "Muscle power versus modern consumption"

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Smil, ''op cit'', page 81</ref>
 
Smil, ''op cit'', page 81</ref>
  
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== How much power do we use? ==
  
[https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p8469 BBC TV's "Bang Goes The Theory"] conducted a practical demonstration:
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How does this compare with the amounts of power we are accustomed to using as part of a first-world lifestyle?
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Toasters are amongst the more power-hungry machines we use, along with others that produce heat such as kettles, dishwashers, washing machines, and heaters of course.  
  
: A Bang Goes the Theory special event showing how much electricity we use and abuse without even thinking about it.
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[https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00p8469 BBC TV's "Bang Goes The Theory"] conducted a practical demonstration,
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showing how much electricity we use (and abuse!) without even thinking about it.
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This massive experiment attempted to power a house for an entire day solely through human pedal power, while the unsuspecting family inside went about their normal Sunday routine:
  
: This massive experiment attempts to power a house for an entire day solely through human pedal power - while the unsuspecting family inside go about their normal Sunday routine. Will they drive the Human Power Station to meltdown?
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<youtube>vPxuuB_ZBuk</youtube>
  
<youtube>vPxuuB_ZBuk</youtube><br>The whole programme
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Spoiler: here's what happened when one of the family used their electric shower:
 
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<youtube>C93cL_zDVIM</youtube>
<youtube>C93cL_zDVIM</youtube><br>The electric shower segment
 

Revision as of 17:30, 23 May 2020


How much power can humans, and other animals, generate? How much do we consume?

Energy guru Vaclav Smil claims that trained individuals can generate 4 or even 5 KW of work for a few seconds, and almost 2 KW equivalent in sustained running.[1]

However a practical experiment finds that an Olympic cyclist struggles to generate enough power to run a 700 W toaster for a couple of minutes:

One horsepower is defined as 745 Watts, and good horses can sustain 700—800 W of work power. Oxen, by comparison, may be capable of only around 300 W for smaller animals.[2]

How much power do we use?

How does this compare with the amounts of power we are accustomed to using as part of a first-world lifestyle? Toasters are amongst the more power-hungry machines we use, along with others that produce heat such as kettles, dishwashers, washing machines, and heaters of course.

BBC TV's "Bang Goes The Theory" conducted a practical demonstration, showing how much electricity we use (and abuse!) without even thinking about it. This massive experiment attempted to power a house for an entire day solely through human pedal power, while the unsuspecting family inside went about their normal Sunday routine:

Spoiler: here's what happened when one of the family used their electric shower:

  1. "Energy - A Beginner's Guide" by Vaclav Smil, Oneworld Publications, 2006 - 2017, ISBN 978-1-78607-133-0, page 71
  2. Smil, op cit, page 81