Epiphany onE Puck charges phones with a hot (or cold) beverage

There’s no shortage of ways to charge a phone. You can use a wireless charging pad, a solar charger, plug it into your PC, or you can go old school and just plug your phone into a wall jack. Soon you may be able to charge your phone using a hot or cold beverage.

Epiphany Labs is raising funds on Kickstarter for a product called the onE Puck which is a kind of coaster that generates electricity by differences in temperature. Place a hot or cold item on the surface of the coaster and it will start to generate electricity — which you can use to charge a phone or other mobile device.

Epiphany onE Puck

There are a few reasons to keep your expectations for this sort of device low. When operating at full capacity, it can generate enough power to fully charge a phone in about the same amount of time it would take if you were plugged into a wall outlet.

But it’s not likely that the onE Puck will run at full capacity very often. You need a very hot or very cold beverage in order for it to work best — and odds are your cold drink will warm up or your coffee or tea will cool down before you’ve fully charged your phone.

Under those circumstances, the device will store what charge it generates and send it in short bursts to your phone or other device. It doesn’t conduct enough electricity to charge larger items like iPads.

The good news is that you don’t need a beverage at all — you just need to be able to make sure the top and bottom surfaces of the device are different temperatures, which means that you could place it on a cold windowsill or other area to generate a little juice for your phone.

Ephinay Labs says the technology is based on a Stirling engine — something that’s been around for almost two hundred years, but which hasn’t been widely used in consumer electronics.

Epiphinay’s main business at the moment is making solar powered water systems which are used in developing nations to purify drinking water in areas without reliable access to electricity.

While the onE Puck is a consumer device, Epiphany is hoping to use the project as a testing ground for technology that could be used in future water purification systems or other larger-scale products.

So if the $115 asking price for a onE Puck seems a bit high, that’s because you’re not just making a Kickstarter pledge to pre-order a device that may or may not fully charge your phone. You’re helping the company develop technologies that could improve access to power and water in the developing world.

Apparently that’s not as tough a sell as it sounds — the project is already two thirds of the way toward meeting its $100,000 fundraising goal and there are more than 50 days left to go in the campaign.

via Mashable

  • Renee Auclair

    I wonder if the technology could be applied towards making building materials which could generate electricity in hot or cold climates, enough for a household.

  • Penn Taylor

    When I first read this, I thought, “Surely this is a Seebeck effect device, not a Stirling engine.” But they really are claiming to have crammed a working Stirling engine into that thing. If it ever gets to market, it will be interesting to see how rugged it is.

    • http://rct.me.ht/ crashsuit

      Ditto. I’m no engineer but I’d think making it Seebeck-based would make it much more durable and affordable than putting a Stirling engine in there.

  • John Morris

    Can’t see it ever generating enough energy to pay off the initial price. Impractical.

    Now as a device for use somewhere you can’t get any other energy it might be useful. Some place with no sunlight for a much less expensive solar panel. Dunno where that would be though.

    And since it almost certainly uses a storage battery it wouldn’t even be good for ‘survivalist’ types, no shelf life and poor service life without access to spare parts suppliers.

    • http://nortonpeabody.blogspot.com/ Norton Peabody

      You hit the nail on the head, the the expense of production and relative inefficiency of thermoelectric devices make them suitable for very few applications where the convenience outweighs the inefficiency of the device. Making them an expensive novelty for just about anything else….

  • GregYohn

    Think uses the same technology as used with 12 volt ice chests. Give it electric, and then makes heat or cold. The inverse is true. Basically one side cold and other hot makes electricity. The greater the difference makes more electricity. Think called the pellitier effect.

    One could make their own, but the cost is much beyond its electric production cost. The person could recharge batteries for pennies, instead of buying $100+ item. Still like the product!!

  • GregYohn

    Saw that using Peltier plates and heat sinks from a pc, and one could make electricity. They might be using something that stores the power before sending it using capacitors. I saw it done with an altoids box as a usb charger. Their setup does not seem to have sufficient temperature differences.

  • someone

    who made the epiphany one puck ?????!!!

  • Sean Dougherty

    This never ended up being produced or shipped. Took over $100K from Kickstarter investors and ran. Total Scam!