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Human-powered water purifiers get Ho Chi Minh City residents exercising for good cause

Human-powered water purifiers get Ho Chi Minh City residents exercising for good cause

Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 17:02 GMT+7

Residents along a canal-side road in Ho Chi Minh City have been lining up for a run on newly installed exercise bikes that power water-purifying machines cleaning contaminated water taken from the canal.

People living on Hoang Sa Street in Phu Nhuan District have been excited to try out four public exercise bikes recently installed on the sidewalk.

Unlike normal stationary bikes, these are connected to a system that transforms kinetic energy into electricity to power two machines that purify contaminated water taken from the canal.

The idea is part of a program initiated and sponsored by tire manufacturer Bridgestone Vietnam, aimed at educating the public on the importance of keeping the environment clean and livable.

The bikes are installed along the canal of Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe, a waterway recently revived from a state of serious contamination following a multimillion-dollar spend by the government.

The wheels of these red-and-white unicycles are connected to dynamos that charge up storage batteries, which in turn power electric water pumps that pump canal water into two large tanks.

Inside the tanks are sand and other absorbent materials that filter out solid contaminants before releasing the purified water back into the canal.

A switch is installed near the handlebar of each bike, allowing riders to switch the electric water pump on or off, and thereby start or stop the purification process.

An engaging way of raising awareness

Since their installation, the exercise bikes have attracted the attention of local residents, who have expressed amusement at the idea of exercising and contributing to the environment at the same time.

Tran Minh Hung, a local who jogs by the area frequently, said the act of activating the machines and seeing clean water pour down into the canal from his own sweat “makes the whole experience fresh and amusing” compared to other exercise equipment.

Hung said that he understood the effort involved in improving contaminated water after breaking a sweat to purify a small amount of water.

“I believe people’s awareness of protecting the environment will be raised through this exercise,” Hung said.

Hung proposed, however, that the appearance and safety measures of the bikes be improved to attract more users.

Tran Minh Hien, head of the environment watchdog under the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said the machines were only designed to filter out contaminants such as suspended solids and depositions, while organic substances from sewage systems were much more difficult to treat.

Hien however applauded the idea and welcomed its replication across the city, stressing that it would improve people’s awareness of environmental problems.

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