Written by Max Pivonka, ESLLC 2015-2016
As a technologically adept society, it’s always important to have a power source to supply people’s various electronics. And tech expands and becomes more relevant in more circles a new wave of mobile power sources is sweeping the outdoor industry, kinetic chargers.
Kinetic chargers are devices that convert body movements – or kinetic energy – into an electrical charge that is then stored in a battery for later use or that can be used immediately. The first instance of this type of technology was developed in the 1980s in Japan where a watch that was powered by the hand-movements of the user. More recently products that can be place in backpacks for outdoor, off the grid adventures that take advantage of the up-and-down motion created as you walk which charge a battery that can be used to charge your phone.
These energy generating devices utilize a form of energy called piezoelectricity which is an electrical charge that accumulates in certain solid materials in response to mechanical stress. The majority of these portable kinetic phone chargers utilize piezo crystals, often quartz crystals. When force is applied in terms of motion, short bursts of electrical charge are created that are led off from the crystal by an electrical circuit and stored in a battery. It’s a very simple process, where it gets more complicated is standardizing these various devices and meeting the specific voltage needs of different mobile devices.
Not only is this a cool way to charge your devices, but a way to save some energy that would otherwise be drawn from utilities, playing a part in moving energy toward sustainable sources .