Stirling engines have been around for centuries and there is no dearth of researchers who plan to make use of this engine to produce renewable energy using heat disparities, however not many have made use of this technology to bring out a portable device that can produce enough energy to charge a smartphone. The more your smartphone can do, the more quickly it loses its charge and once the onboard battery is dead, your $500 smartphone is nothing but a paperweight.
To make sure that you don’t get into a habit of using paperweights that cost hundreds of dollars, Epiphany Labs has come up with a portable device that makes use of a compact Stirling engine to produce renewable energy. The device, dubbed Epiphany One Puck, can be used as a coaster and once you place an extremely hot or an extremely cold cup of drink on top of it, it produces electricity that is relayed to your smartphone via a USB outlet.
The device has two usable sides – red and blue and the idea is to place a hot drink on the red side and a cold one on the blue side. The difference in temperature between the sides produces about 5W of electricity at 1000mA, which is enough to power your smartphone. However, the developers don’t really tell the time it would be required to completely charge a smartphone. Moreover, since the device works best when the temperature difference is the biggest, we don’t think it will be able to charge a dead smartphone with a couple of mugs of chilled beer or piping hot cup of coffee.
The developers are now on KickStarter to raise $100,000 for the first production run on the One Puck. Early birds can get the charger on a $99 pledge price, the regular cost of which will be $115. CNet notes that the charger isn’t as slim as most chargers are, but it is just portable enough to be carried in a bag.