What if you could charge your cell phone without plugging it in, but with a hot water bottle? Space thermoelectric technology may soon make this incredible solution a reality.
Thermoelectric devices are made from materials that can convert temperature differences into electricity. Previous studies have shown that thermoelectric devices can store residual heat and generate electricity from it, thereby replacing batteries in spacecraft.
Chinese scientists now want to take advantage of space thermoelectric technology to benefit ordinary people.
Researchers at the China Missile Research Institute, one of the country's top rocket manufacturers, have developed a type of insulated water bottle equipped with a thermoelectric chip that can convert the heat of water into electricity to charge a mobile phone.
As mobile phones are equipped with more powerful processors and larger touch screen interfaces, their power consumption will increase accordingly. And many people often face the problem of charging their phones, especially when traveling or out-of-town excursions, said lead researcher Ma Wei.
Our solution to this problem is a thermoelectric device based on a water bottle - a heat source for generating electricity, ”said Ma Wei, adding that this invention does not require any additional energy sources.
In the demo video, the thermoelectric device was embedded in the bottle cap, which has a USB charging port. When the researcher connected the iPhone to the bottle using a cable, the phone screen alerted its owner to start charging.
"We found that a bottle of 300-500 milliliters of boiling water can provide 20-30 minutes of electricity," said research team member Sheng Jiang.
This bottle can also power laptops, cameras and other low-power household appliances.
Researchers are currently seeking to establish partnerships with businesses for the commercial application of this invention. The product is likely to cost between RMB 150 (about US $ 23) to RMB 200.
Although a thermoelectric chip can make a bottle 200g heavier than a product of the same size on the market, Sheng Jiang assured that it would be easy to carry around as the researchers reduced the bottle's weight with a lightweight thermal insulation material originally created for space devices to replace the stainless steel container.
Sheng Jiang also emphasized the safety of the new invention, noting that it provides a low voltage current, thereby eliminating the risk of short circuits.