Squirrel power. It sounds nuts, right? Students at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, however, propose a different opinion. They seem to believe that harnessing the energy of squirrels has practical potential. The experiment will involve capturing campus squirrels, fitting them with lightweight, battery charging backpacks, and setting them loose to charge up a lithium battery.
The principle is similar to that which makes those hand-shaken, rechargeable flashlights work: a magnet moves freely through a coil of copper wire, thus generating current and charging the lithium cell. The difference here is that rather than shaking your arm until muscle fatigue renders it useless, this process puts an army of twitchingly exuberant rodents to task.
The project will gather volunteers from around campus to herd the squirrels for their special jacket fitting. “Our biggest concern is catching the squirrels, said Mark Dodders, a consultant for Green4Lyfe, the Asheville-based energy-saving firm hired by the college.
Naturally, one must question the efficiency of the operation. Just how much energy will be put into capturing and fitting the squirrels in comparison to the energy yielded by their battery charging efforts? Guilford English Professor, Jim Hood, indicated a rumor that campus physics students had already done some number crunching: “I heard that physics majors calculated that the energy released by Guilford squirrels running up and down just five oak and three maple trees on the quad could provide enough power to fuel Netflix streaming in Milner and Bryan combined.”
And, by the way, in case you think any actual squirrels were hurt in this project, consider this: the press release date for this story was March 31. This is just a day before that famous prankster holiday that kicks off April…
EarthTechling wants your opinion! Take EarthTechling’s 3-minute reader survey and enter to win a $250 Amazon gift card. The 2011 survey closes on April 15, 2011.