Pedal-Powered Generator

Project Leaders


In developing countries, there is limited access to reliable electricity. While electricity may not be required for luxury services such as air conditioning, it is definitely a necessity in the healthcare industry, where precious lives are on the line. The lack of constant power in hospitals can hinder the delivery of healthcare by compromising a procedure due to the loss of electronic equipment support. During an Engineering World Health interview with Dr. Sanjog Bastola of Nepal, he mentioned that power loss was definitely present as he explained how his hospital was on an 18 hour power rotation. It is because of this reason that our solution of a cheap, easy to build, maintain, and operate pedal-powered generator is a necessity in the healthcare systems of developing nations.

Our solution to this problem is an affordable and relatively simple generator using recycled bicycle components and an automotive alternator. The power generated can be stored into eco-friendly super capacitors that also have the ability to be regulated to provide power at different voltages for a variety of devices. The frame of the generator will be built using lightweight yet sturdy PVC. When operated, the generator will be able to charge its twin series 1500 farad storage capacitors at an input of 5.4 volts in only a few minutes at low pedal rates.  Each capacitor is rated at 1500 farads/2.7V DC/1.5Wh.  Super capacitors were chosen in lieu of batteries as they operate similarly while maintaining a longer life, are capable of more frequent charge cycles, and are more environmentally friendly when disposed or recycled.  Users will have the option of powering a device directly while pedaling or taking power from the capacitors once in place. The power pack that we are designing will allow a DC output that will have a 5 to 12V range, along with an AC output of 120V.  We will be aiming to have greater range for AC output by the project’s completion.

Project Goals

  • Must be lightweight.
  • Durable.
  • Electrical efficiency.
    • Use of supercapacitors for long-term power storage.
    • Use of alternator to generate electricity


Progress Pic

Two approaches to this project are shown in the image above. Currently, we are working on the highlighted approach, which eliminates the need for supercapacitors.

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Test results

Stay tuned!