Going on a camping trip? still want to have all your gadgets charged? a new device called PowerPot will soon allow you to make cook your dinner or boil your coffee while charging your cell phone, iPad, or even your camera. All you need are some woods, a match and some water.
David Toledo, a materials science engineer from Salt Lake City, spent the last 4 years researching thermoelectrics, including nano ceramic thermoelectric materials. During his work Ph.D. in Cornell University he had an idea and decided to found together with his co-inventor of the PowerPot, Paul Slusser a start-up company called Power Practical which will concentrate on developing practical solutions for converting heat into electricity.
PowerPot which is currently rising money at the crowdfunding website kickstarter will come in several variations/sizes. The PowerPot V will be a typical backpacking type cooking pot, with thermoelectric technology attached to its base that will make 5W (enough to charge 2-3 small devices at one time). A larger version called PowerPot X is a more typical kitchen-style pot, with integrated thermoelectric technology that will make 10W of power. It will be able to charge a number of larger devices such as tablets. The PowerPot X holds 2 quarts of liquid, and is sized for a small family. It can work on a gas stove and provide power in case of a power outage. The largest version (which is still in development will be called PowerPot XV and will produce up to 15 Watt of power using a 1 gallon cooking pot. It will enable families in developing nations to generate enough power to light their homes (probably using strong LED lighting). According to Toledo it would even give them enough electricity to start a micro-business providing power to their community.
Power Practical took many steps to ensure that the power cable will be safe from hard during its operation. The cord has a high-temperature resistant connector made out of a nylon fiberglass composite which plugs into the backside of the PowerPot, and three feet of flame-resistant cabling leading to the USB plug. This will allow it to work safely near an open wood fires in addition to stoves.
Power Practical plans to have a 12V and 9V version outputs available in the future which should allow for charging DSLR cameras and other higher voltage devices. Charging devices should take the same amount of time as it would take at home according to the company.
A kickstarter video showing David Toledo, Paul Slusser and the PowerPot
More information can be found on the kickstarter website as well as on "thepowerpot" website.
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.