How do you charge your cell phone, or any other USB-chargeable device, in the aftermath of a natural disaster when your electricity is knocked out? You could charge it off your car's power outlet if you have the right charging insert, but that burns precious fuel.
Well, here is a way:
TES NewEnergy, a company based in Japan, has created a new USB based charger that can charge your mobile phone without requiring electricity – all it needs is a heat source which could be as simple as a pan of boiling water or even a campfire.Then there is this homegrown solution from Kenya, where cell phone are ubiquitous but only 10 percent of the rural population has electricity. Since most everyone there rides bicycles for routine transportation, here ya go:
The device, known as Pan Charger, converts heat into electric energy and that can charge any cellphone, MP3 player or other mobile device over a USB connection in 3-5 hours. The tech specs say that the USB connection also has a built-in radio and a lantern – things that you often need when there’s no power.
Pan Charger is already available for purchase in Japan according to an AFP report but, at $299 a unit, it is not a very affordable option. That could however change as the company does have plans to introduce the device in other developing countries.
Pretty ingenious, and I'd bet there would be a good market for this device here in the States.