Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Damon Miller

Second Advisor

Harold Glasser


Sustainable design, human-powered energy, bicycle generator, renewable energy, efficiency, small-scale energy generation, human well-being, equivalent bicycle hours, modular system


Human powered energy is an underutilized and ubiquitous type of renewable energy that is able to combat small-scale dependencies on natural gas and coal. The bicycle generator is a form of harnessing human energy that ranges in complexity, materials, and system output reliability. The Sustainable Bicycle Generator project focuses on redesigning a bike generator to be efficient, responsibly sourced, cost-effective, and aesthetically pleasing for home and office applications. The objective of the project is to create a turnkey solution for hands-on learning about energy and self-sufficiency in order to develop a deeper understanding of how humans generate and consume energy. Additional benefits include promoting wellbeing through exercise during the winter months, a modular system that is portable and replicable, and a solution for remote energy needs via a portable battery. The generator acts as an add-on to bicycle trainers for stationary use of a bicycle with easy set-up and teardown. Main components of the system include a motor, battery, inverter, and charge controller. The components are encased in a “Smart Box” for multi-mode switching between demonstration and battery charging. Bluetooth cadence sensors track rider cadence to provide a direct feedback loop. The system produces an average of 110W for a 50% exertion level of the rider. The energy payback time, or equivalent bicycle hours, for the battery is 382 hours. The total system cost to construct is $495.


Kelsey Pitschel is a co-author of this thesis.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Restricted