3 forum posts
Hello Outdoorists and Adventurers alike,
From the title you may have some idea what this forum topic is about. Read on to find out more.
Firstly here is a brief introduction to who I am the goals that I have. I am a student at Brunel University London (brunel .ac.uk) studying BSc Product Design Engineering (see recent Brunel Design Projects here - madeinbrunel .com) and am in my final year. As part of the course there is a Major Project module that allows me the freedom to research and study a design opportunity and then develop appropriate solutions for it.
A potential gap in the market that I have noticed is for a mobile phone battery charger that can be charged up with kinetic energy. I am posting on this forum to find out whether or not the lack of this product truly is a “pain point” amongst outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, campers, etc. I would appreciate your feedback and thoughts on this.
There are currently three main types of portable phone chargers out on the market. Those are basic battery power packs, solar charging power packs and heat charging plates. All of these store and distribute electrical energy in a similar way, but vary in the ways that they gather that electrical energy in the first place. Basic battery power packs are typically charged with mains electricity via your wall plug outlets from a home environment. They a good source of charge for when you’re on the go, but require mains electricity access in order to recharge them. The solar charging power packs have the added benefit of harnessing energy from the sun. This is a pro because the energy is “free”, but you may not always have a good amount of sunlight (or none if camping at night) and the energy gathered is usually quite low. Heat charging power packs are emerging out in to the market more recently. The main pro is you can make use of unused/wasted heat energy from camp fires. The cons are that, they are usually quite bulky/heavy, require a source of heat, cannot provide charge to your mobile when they’re not hot (they lack a rechargeable battery power pack due to battery explode risks) and are relatively expensive.
A kinetic energy charger could outweigh many of the pros of the existing products above. Firstly, like the basic and solar powered battery power packs it could be charged using mains electricity. Like the solar powered and heat chargers, it would not be dependent on mains electricity to charge. It would also not be dependent on an uncontrollable variable such as sunlight and heat (difficult to get a good amount of heat in the cold and wet). Could be operated at any time provided that you have the ability to move (assuming that you’re hiking, etc. you probably do). This would all in make a truly “mobile” mobile phone charger.
I am aware that there are already existing concepts and products out there, such as: kompyuteran .com/2011/07/worlds-first-passive-kinetic-energy-charger-npower-peg/ , thevoltmakers .com/en/voltmaker.htm and: getampy.com/ampy-move . The problem is that none of these really offer any “real power”. By “real power”, I mean enough electrical energy to supply a phone battery with a realistically usable amount of charge.
For the past couple of weeks, I have been prototyping with a set of home-built rigs to see if I can achieve “real power” with a portable kinetic charger and the results are heading in the right direction.
As mentioned above I would really appreciate your feedback and also to get a discussion going.
If you would like to contact me personally, my email address is 1206864 @my.brunel.ac.uk .
Thank you all for reading, take care and happy hiking!