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The R2B2 pedal-powered kitchen appliance concept

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November 25, 2010

Christoph Thetard has developed a mechanical flywheel drive to power a set of kitchen appl...

Christoph Thetard has developed a mechanical flywheel drive to power a set of kitchen appliances

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Christoph Thetard has developed a mechanical flywheel drive to power a set of kitchen appliances for his Diploma in Product Design at Bauhaus University in Weimar, Germany. The kitchen machine, coffee grinder and hand blender chosen for this device would under normal circumstances need to be plugged into an electrical wall socket, but there's no electricity needed for R2B2. Pumping the pedal spins the flywheel, which in turn provides the energy needed to operate the three cooking aids.

The target of the project was to create a set of kitchen appliances that could be powered without using electricity. R2B2 consists of three appliances considered to be amongst the most frequently-used in a kitchen – a multi-functional kitchen machine, a glass and ceramic coffee grinder and a hand blender – and a central drive unit mounted in a wooden frame. The open construction was deliberate so that observers can see what's going on and how it works.

Pumping the pedal drives the flywheel which in turn provides power to the appliances

At the heart of the drive unit is the pedal-driven flywheel. Pumping the pedal can power the flywheel up to 400 rpm, generating the equivalent of 350W of energy to power the appliances by direct mechanical rotation. The flywheel is capable of retaining energy to continue providing power for a short while, before needing to be topped up with pedal-action again. A switch dial to the front of the unit controls the speed of the gears, with fast, slow or neutral being available.

All of the components are made from polished or sandblasted stainless steel, oiled wood, glass and ceramics, and the belts made from silicon. It's been designed for extended life – even the drive chain turning the flywheel shouldn't require oil lubrication.

The hand blender can take various attached ends for different tasks and the transmission gives the device up to 10,000 rpm. The multi-function kitchen machine includes different blades, a slicing disc and whip, and was designed to do as many different jobs as possible with the least possible parts. The coffee grinder features a glass chamber for the beans and one for the ground powder, and a porcelain outer shell which joins them both to the mill. Shelving within the main body of R2B2 can be used to store the various attachments.

Christoph Thetard has developed a mechanical flywheel drive to power a set of kitchen appl...

Thetard admits that any future production model would benefit from some efficiency modifications. "I am a designer, not an engineer. I want to say I built it as good as I could and it works," he told Gizmag. "But for production, there is a lot of engineering to do till everything works 100 percent. And I am sure it is possible to optimize its speed to store more energy."

Although the proof of concept prototype was designed for a specific kitchen setup, Thetard told us that it should be possible to modify the outer design and install it into any kitchen. He also sees the flywheel drive being used as the starting point for numerous grid-less energy solutions, such as providing power to shavers in the bathroom or a washing machine in the basement.

R2B2 can be seen at Frankfurt's Ambiente Talents show in February next year and at SaloneSatellite in Milan in April.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag.   All articles by Paul Ridden
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8 Comments

Wow! bring it to Africa, it will help us go green while keeping fit and spending less on electricity at the same time! Great idea. Just ship it here pls!

datche p
26th November, 2010 @ 03:54 am PST

Why not build the flywheel into the main structure of the house? (Newbuilds obviously) Connect each room to it by something like a pulley built into the main internal walls, with a basic gear for engaging when needed.

Providing the homeowner is capable of pumping a pedal you could run the household gadgets off the grid and possibly store power in a battery that harvests the flywheel capacity if nothing is engaged with it.

JmB
26th November, 2010 @ 07:25 am PST

I don't get the one crankarm and wonder how you get a rotation going on it, as is.

"DIY" have already done this for Central America- tortilla grinding of corn, waterpumping (and since forever knife sharpening)

Datchepaul, contact me and let's see how we can get some pedalpower to your continent. Others are trying to send bikes to replace wheelbarrows for such necessities as ambulance duty, sorely lacking in the forgotten 'hoods. We can also suggest simple charging stations for batteries, be they used for home lighting or cell phone. Good micro lending possibilities here.

Facebook User
26th November, 2010 @ 01:40 pm PST

Facebook User, it's a treadle. It goes up and down, not round and round. A one-way clutch lets it return to starting position after each stroke without stopping the rotation.

Gadgeteer
27th November, 2010 @ 09:12 am PST

This is a solution in search of a problem.

Pedaling with one leg will not produce enough power to run a competent blender. A good bicyclist is producing 175 watts at 32 km/h using both legs on a much more efficient pedal system. I'd guess an average kitchen user can muster 50 watts for a few minutes with one leg; a decent blender uses at least 400 watts.

And for what? A blender used for 30 seconds per day (that'd be 4 minutes of pedaling) uses 1.2 kWh per YEAR. That's 12 CENTS per year you'll save (and the carbon from 12 cents worth of electricity. If you used the thing a lot, you might save up to a dollar a year.

And it's not a good fitness gimmick either; you'd probably want to exercise both legs and maybe even other parts of your body.

DrifterToo
29th November, 2010 @ 09:13 pm PST

Very good use of pedal power. I like it. I designed pedal operated battery charger and pedal operatedwashing machineusing sewing machine base and wheel. These are mobile,affordable to people in developing countries.

Dr.A.Jagadeesh Nellore(AP),India

E-mail: anumakonda.jagadeesh@gmail.com

Anumakonda Jagadeesh
6th December, 2010 @ 12:01 am PST

Very interesting! Use a plexiglass sheild so little kids and little critters won;t get hurt by the rotating wheels

Azar Attura
16th August, 2011 @ 11:31 am PDT

Well even if it does not save electricity, you can use it when and where there is NO electricity. Maybe you want to live in the forest? Or in an eco-house in the prarie, or where ever. The good thing is we can fit out home to be as independent of external energy as possible. I wanna see more products like this one. And hey, if you change which foot you use every now and then, it will also increase your legs strengt both mussle, bone and nerves. ;)

Ishai Silencio
1st September, 2011 @ 08:15 am PDT
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