Earlier this month, this little egg-shaped carbon fiber bicycle set a new record World’s Fastest Human-Powered vehicle at 89.59 miles per hour. That’s fast, but I’m more interested in its energy efficiency, operating at 9,544 MPGe.
This sounds like a weird equivalency, but there’s already an established measurement for this called MPGe, or miles per gallon equivalent. It measures, well, how many miles something can travel per unit of energy consumed, just like miles per gallon. The trick is that you can get a finite amount of energy out of burning a gallon of gasoline, 33.70 kWh. So one MPG would mean one mile traveled for the expenditure of 33.70 kWh, or one MPGe.
Interesting for us, the company that built the record bike, Aerovelo, did do its own calculations for this MPGe, as they explained in this press release:
Analysis of the vehicle performance showed that Eta requires less than 198 watts of pedal power at 90 km/h, which translates to a 9,544 MPGe highway fuel efficiency. This is the highest per-passenger MPGe of any existing transportation technology at this speed.
So it’s not just that this bike does not consume gasoline, it’s that it’s significantly more efficient than a gasoline-powered vehicle. Maybe that’s not surprising. It’s a tiny carbon egg. It should be, right?