Japanese firm TES NewEnergy has launched a bizarre new way to charge your cellphone and other gadgets: using a pan of boiling water. The idea behind the Pan Charger was prompted when CEO Kazuhiro Fujita saw footage of earthquake victims huddled around small fires, and wondered whether integrating a heat-powered charger element to a regular saucepan would be a good idea.
"When I saw the TV footage of the quake victims making a fire to keep themselves warm, I came up with the idea of helping them to charge their mobile phones at the same time ... Unlike a solar power generator, our pot can be used regardless of time of day and weather while its small size allows people to easily carry it in a bag in case of evacuation" Kazuhiro Fujita, CEO, TES NewEnergy
Outwardly looking like any regular pot, the Pan Charger actually has a base plate covered in strips of ceramic thermoelectric material: the temperature differentials between the fire underneath and the 100-degree C water inside allow that material to create electricity, which is pumped out via a regular USB connection. Anything that can operate on roughly 2W/400mA can recharge; Fujita reckons an iPhone would take around three to five hours to fully rejuice.
TES NewEnergy is offering the Pan Charger in Japan this month, priced at 24,150 yen ($300), but the company also plans to launch it in developing countries where stable power sources can be tough to find. "There are many places around the world that lack the electric power supply for charging mobile phones" Fujita suggests.
As the British well know, the best course of action in an emergency is to boil some water and make a nice cup of tea. Now, you can charge your smartphone and radio at the same time.