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Monday, March 05, 2007

When marginal cost outweighs marginal benefit?

This story in Nature reports on a gym in Hong Kong which has wired up its treadmills and stationary bikes to recapture the energy created when exercisers go at it. I have often thought about this issue when looking at sixty people going at it on eliptical machines in the gym here on campus.

My thought was that if it were viable to hook the machines up to the grid and contribute a meaningful amount of electricity to the system, we would all be required to give thirty minutes on the treadmill.

However, that doesn't seem too likely, at least not in the near future, as the article points out:
Power companies aren't fretting yet, however. When all 13 machines at the Hong Kong gym are being furiously pedalled, the energy output is only enough to power five 60-watt bulbs. And even if they were used for 10 hours a day, it would take the club 82 years to pay off its US$15,000 investment.
An example of "looking good" rather than "doing good"?

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