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New York student brings new energy to bike design

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 02:16

Sept. 30 - A 22-year old college graduate in New York has adapted hybrid car technology to a bicycle, using a fly-wheel to store energy generated by the brakes for use when the riding gets tough. Maxwell von Stein's flywheel bicycle redistributes energy to help the rider increase speed with maximum efficiency. Sharon Reich reports.

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Feeling the need for speed? If you're riding Maxwell von Stein's bicycle, you can get to your destination in a flash, without having to work up a sweat. The engineering student's fly-wheel bicycle employs the same energy alternating principles as a hybrid car. But rather than a battery, it uses a fly-wheel to transfer and store kinetic energy, which gives the bike a boost in speed. Von Stein came up with the idea while commuting to classes at The Cooper Union. To build the technology, he began with a 15 pound, cast iron fly-wheel taken from a car engine. He mounted the fly-wheel in the center of the bike frame, and attached it to the rear wheel through a continuously variable transmission. (SOUNDBITE) (English) Maxwell von Stein, inventor of the Fly-wheel bicycle, saying: "That transmission controls how energy is distributed between the bike and the fly-wheel. When you want to slow down you twist the transmission, it's a twist shift on the right handle bar. ... By shifting that ratio, you increase the speed of the flywheel and decrease the speed of the bike. Now the flywheel is spinning really quickly, you've got energy stored there and when you need to accelerate you shift the transmission in the opposite direction for a boost in speed." Von Stein says he likes to think of the process as charging the flywheel and boosting the bike. While his self-described "contraption" has made biking easier, von Stein says his goal isn't to re-invent the bicycle. He is hoping to use the two-wheel experiment as a basis for developing a fly-wheel kinetic energy system for cars. He believes the system is a good alternative to battery-operated hybrid systems because it is lighter and can be packaged more easily. (SOUNDBITE) (English) Maxwell von Stein, inventor of the Fly-wheel bicycle, saying: "Hybrids are really heavy. In order to get a battery with the capacity to store enough energy to move the car it's got to be pretty heavy. Takes up a lot of room also. I know the Nissan Leaf, first electric car on the market in this country is 3400 lbs. For a compact car, that weight works against you when you're talking about efficiency. The nice thing about this is its light, it packages really well and its cheaper." Several European car companies are already experimenting with fly-wheel technology, and von Stein estimates that cars with regenerative braking systems could hit the market by 2013. He hopes to be part of that revolution, and is in search of a job with a company that will hire him to help develop the systems. In the meantime, he says he plans to devote HIS energy to charging around New York City on two wheels. Sharon Reich, Reuters

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New York student brings new energy to bike design

Friday, September 30, 2011 - 02:16

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