Q: How many people riding bicycle generators would be needed, in an 8-hour working day, to equal or surpass the energy generated by an average nuclear power plant?

Physicist: A person on a bike can optimistically generate around 200 watts, and an average nuclear power plant generates 800 MW of power (although a big nuclear power plant generates many times more power than a small one).

The power plant of the future?

Given those two “statistics”, it would take somewhere around 12 million people on bicycles for eight hours to equal the power output of a single nuclear power plant for a day.  Based on schematics for Viking longships, which were essentially mobile motivation machines, we can reasonably say that a “spin class power plant” would take up about 6.5 square miles (not including walkways or bathrooms) and require about 300,000 task-masters to keep the power supply steady.  This, it’s worth noting, exceeds the total number of taskmasters currently living in Norway (oppgave mestere i Norge unite!).

Taskmaster and plutonium pellet.  In their natural states, the taskmaster is perpetually cold and the pellet is perpetually hot.

The take home point is: nuclear energy doesn’t mess around.  Other than extension cords (a technology still in its infancy), there really aren’t any other ways to, for example, power a spacecraft on a 50 year mission beyond the solar system, or to run a submarine for a few decades without refueling, on nothing more than a bucket-full of fuel.

The power plant picture is from here, and the taskmaster is really Ivar the Boneless from Erik the Viking.

This entry was posted in -- By the Physicist, Engineering. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Q: How many people riding bicycle generators would be needed, in an 8-hour working day, to equal or surpass the energy generated by an average nuclear power plant?

  1. Bob says:

    Well, just install an energy-making bike in your house, exercise on your bike for a few hours each day, and sell your extra energy you generated to the nearest power plant. Talk about alternative energy sources! (Plus, you’re getting paid to exercise.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>