Zero Gravity Exercise Device
Nature provided inspiration in the form of Chameleon tongues which can store energy in a collagen spiral structure for release when required. "So far we have not seen a parallel structure in biology or mechanics, it is a completely novel design" said Johan L. van Leeuwen, a biologist at Wageningen University to National Geographic in 2010. The tongue is mechanically analogized here by constant torque springs, typically used in window blinds, although these versions are far stiffer.
UNIQUE PROPERTIES / PROJECT DESCRIPTION:
Bio-Inspired Micro Gravity Exercise Concept is a workout machine designed to offset the osteoporosis, muscular atrophy and psychological issues associated with long-term space travel. Bimgec emulates weight in zero gravity for weight training and aerobic workouts. It incorporates a unique eccentric bias system to increase the effective load during the eccentric phase of a rep. Bimgec was designed for an open call for technologies by NASA for use in their Orion capsule for future manned interplanetary missions, which it won.
OPERATION / FLOW / INTERACTION:
Bimgec is operated in the same way as any weight/aerobic machine but in zero gravity. The benefit of the design is its size and weight, it is compact and weighs 9kg but can provide between 12kg and 180kg of concentric load or 360kg of eccentric load. It can also be used as a rowing machine for up to 750W aerobic workouts. It performs the same job as NASA's current systems but weighs 5% as much and is compact enough to fit and operate within an Orion capsule.
PROJECT DURATION AND LOCATION:
The project started in November 2015 and was completed in December 2015 in Dublin.
FITS BEST INTO CATEGORY:
Engineering and Technical Design
PRODUCTION / REALIZATION TECHNOLOGY:
Bimgec consists of 3 discreet modules. A spring battery provides the resistance load (the weight), a toroidal gearbox allows that load to be varied (like changing the weights on a workout machine) and the Motor-Generator Unit (MGU) charges the battery pack and allows the load profiles to vary during a rep (eccentric bias training). To minimise cost, standardised parts are utilised where possible. Aluminium is used for the majority of the machine and no exotic manufacturing is required.
SPECIFICATIONS / TECHNICAL PROPERTIES:
Dimensions 475mm x 278mm x 190mm
BIMGEC is designed to replace current hydraulic resistance training equipment as used by NASA on the International Space Station, which weighs about 200kg and is roughly the size of a small car. BIMGEC weighs 9kg and is the size of a large shoe box. Considering equipment costs about 14,000 USD per kg just to get it into orbit and getting it to Mars is exponentially more difficult, this represents a significant boost in efficiency.
NASA, Space, Mars, Exercise, Innovation, Moses Rowen
Research started with a briefing from NASA engineers outlining the goals of the project and the technical shortcomings of current equipment. It broadened into researching high density mechanical energy storage systems culminating in detailed research of the bio-mechanics of Chameleon tongues, which led to refining the redesign of con-torque springs to achieve perfect linearity. Significant time was spent researching the fundamentals of continuously variable transmissions and kinetic energy recover systems. The outcome of which was designing brand new versions of these complex systems to make the device satisfy the design spec.
Eccentric bias mode was the biggest technical challenge of the project. The brief required that the machine be able to increase load during the eccentric phase of a rep (as the weight is lowered towards the ground) and that the unit have no external power requirements. In aerobic mode the MGU charges a battery pack, in eccentric gain mode this energy is used by the MGU to increase the force of the eccentric phase. Eccentric gain can be trimmed between 0% and 100% of the concentric load, providing over 360kg at maximum setting. Designing these features into a compact, lightweight system was a massive challenge.
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All images: Rendered Moses Rowen 2015
Copyrights belong to Moses Rowen, 2015