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Using Air to Recharge Your Cell Phone

CmdrTaco posted more than 9 years ago | from the finally-a-use-for-my-wind-pipe dept.

Technology 346

sanspeak writes "Now you do not have to look for a power outlet to charge your cell phones. Department of Industrial Design at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi have come up with a mobile turbine which generates around 3 to 4 watts of energy - sufficient to charge a mobile phone. It costs around $4, fits in your pocket and runs on air ;-). What else do you want ?"

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346 comments

You're going to WHAT?!?! (5, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769598)

... a mobile turbine which generates around 3 to 4 watts of energy - sufficient to charge a mobile phone. It costs around $4, fits in your pocket and runs on air ;-). What else do you want ?"

First impression of "in your pocket and runs on air" is this is charged by hydrocarbon emissions, i.e.

I am not "just" farting, I'm recharging my phone, and it's a renewable resource!"
Logically followed by
"Now you're going to hold that thing to your face?!?!"
The device is best suited for coastal areas where the wind flows almost continuously.

They must eat more lentils there...

"ahhhhh, go blow yer phone!"

Re:You're going to WHAT?!?! (2, Interesting)

ggvaidya (747058) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769659)

With that wink strategically placed in the story description, this is the first thought that came to my mind, too.

That said, I have some friends who could probably run their phone just with the volume and amount of time they spend talking into the darn thing ...

Re:You're going to WHAT?!?! (5, Funny)

mmaddox (155681) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769701)

Run, Tommy! Run like the wind! ...Can you hear me now?

yeeeeeeehaw (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769914)

That was really funny. It would be good for people who run in rodeos and then go home and ranch their cattle because there is a lot of wind on the praire and they would be riding around on horses, which is a lot of fun.

The wind would blow, and then the battery would get really recharged. They could talk forever:
Sample conversation

Customer service: This is a Sprint customer service person, how may help you?

Cowboy Neal: I would like to order some pizza
?

Customer service: This is not a pizza place, this is Sprint Customer service

Cowboy Neal: Oh, sorry, I just pressed some random buttoms because my battery is really charged up.

Customer service: Oh you have one of those new air chargers, those are really cool

Neal: Yeah, I like them a lot.

Sprint customer service: Hey have you played Zelda: The wind waker?

Cow Boy Neal: I hear it is awesome.

Sprint person: Can you hear me now.

Cow Boy Neal: Yes.

and... (0)

rd4tech (711615) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769600)

...and with several air turbines, attached to your tinfoil hat...

Re:and... (3, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769628)

Was that turban or turbine?

:-)

Re:and... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769771)

"Was that turban or turbine?"

How about a turban turbine, powered by the heat from your head? ...and what if you made it out of tinfoil?

What else do I want? (1, Funny)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769603)

Money that grows on Trees thank you very much.

Re:What else do I want? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769666)

Hmmm.... let me see.... A lady friend? This is /. afterall. :-)

Alternatives (5, Insightful)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769606)

Why not use Faraday's Principle of Induction like these LED torches [thinkgeek.com] or a windup charger [cellular.co.za]? Both are independent of external factors.

Hanging out your phone from a car, bus or (shock!) train is pretty dangerous stuff, maybe superman will find this thing handy.

I hope they haven't patented this technology yet, 'cos I'm rolling out my air-powered fan next month.

Re:Alternatives (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769741)

My turbo car already has an air powered fan, thankuverymuch.

I think they've got you beat on that one by 60 or so years.

Re:Alternatives (1)

dustinbarbour (721795) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769788)

Hows about attaching it to the air vent inside your car? Mount your cellphone to it and you have a portable cellphone charger without the need to hang your $100 phone out the window.

Re:Alternatives (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769855)

I'm quite certain someone could come up with a small connecting cable instead of hanging your phone out of the window....

RTFA (3, Informative)

Short Circuit (52384) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769861)

They're not talking about hanging the things out of car windows. A 12V adapter would be better for that, anyway.

Instead, they're expecting that typical environmental wind, especially that found on coasts, will work well enough. The idea is to ease communications access to areas without convenient electricity. (Mountain climbing, anyone?)

Re:Alternatives (1)

doctorjay (860762) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769885)

"Hanging out your phone from a car, bus or (shock!) train is pretty dangerous stuff" LoL you have got to be kidding me... Do you realize that some people in that part of the world ride the sides and tops of trains on a regular occasion, im sure they dont care about an appendage! One could argue, they only do that because they have to! It so crowded .. well read on. "Last week, Mohammad Illyas broke the speed barrier for rooftop travelling by journeying atop the New Delhi-Mumbai Rajdhani Express, travelling at a speed of 120 kmph. His excuse was that he was in a hurry to meet his friend in Goregaon." - http://web.mid-day.com/news/city/2005/february/103 654.htm - http://www.jinxmagazine.com/train_surfing.html from the second link... "There is no way you can protect a child who would choose to ride on top of a subway car." Indio's mother Juaquina would probably agree. Although completely aware of her son's habit, she has found no method of prevention. HAHA how about a good 5 across the face...

Blow or run really fast (4, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769608)

I can't wait to see people blowing into their phones before they make a call, unless they do what the article recommends:
The device will help mobile phone users charge their phones while travelling in a bus, a car or a train. All they need to do is -- place the turbine against the wind flow.
In other words, hold it out the window. Can they get sued when people drop their phones, or lose an arm while holding it out the window?

Re:Blow or run really fast (1)

zdzichu (100333) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769705)

Can they get sued when people drop their phones, or lose an arm while holding it out the window?

You must be out of your mind.

Re:Blow or run really fast (1)

Coneasfast (690509) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769709)

they didn't mean for you to stick your hand out

remember, this is designed in india, where windows are almost always open, or you are in an open rickshaw (enough wind!).

sticking your hand out there (in that case, anywhere in a car) is very dangerous, and i'm guessing no, you can't sue them.

Re:Blow or run really fast (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769712)

But that's stealing energy that rightfully belongs to the train operators.

Re:Blow or run really fast (2, Funny)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769769)

Can they get sued when people drop their phones, or lose an arm while holding it out the window?

Only if it's because you're riding with an evil driver who rolls up the window on you.

Re:Blow or run really fast (1)

roger6106 (847020) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769772)

The device will help mobile phone users charge their phones while travelling in a bus, a car or a train. All they need to do is -- place the turbine against the wind flow. So they do this so they can save money by not buying a charger, then they can drop the phone out the window. Sounds like a great plan. Why didn't Motorola think of this?

Re:Blow or run really fast (1)

trufflemage (860010) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769776)

"while travelling in a bus, a car or a train. All they need to do is -- place the turbine against the wind flow."

So essentially, this is like plugging in your laptop at Barnes & Noble: the store pays the cost. The car or bus will have its air resistence increased and therefore miles per gallon of fuel decreased. Not really creating energy out of thin air here. :)

Re:Blow or run really fast (1)

oliana (181649) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769795)

Yeah, but a clip that goes on your car's window and a wire to your phone make sense.

Attach at beginning of journey, charge on the way to wherever, and remove when you get there.

Of course then the question is, would the added energy consumption due to air resistance associated with the turbine justify not using AC adapter in your lighter to charge your phone?

No air indoors (5, Funny)

KinkifyTheNation (823618) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769613)

What about us people who never leave the house?

Re:No air indoors (4, Funny)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769693)

What about us people who never leave the house?

Simply place a fan next to the turbine.

Re:No air indoors (2, Funny)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769700)

Then I guess it's time to put on the Superman costume and run up and down the stairs real fast.

What else do you want? (5, Funny)

SeanTobin (138474) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769617)

Great.. A cell phone that charges by air. Now all I need is a light weight air compressor with an efficiency greater than unity and I'll never have to plug my phone in again! At least, I won't have to plug it into anything aside from the turbine and the perpetual motion machine.

I still prefer the alternator strapped to a cat with a slice of buttered toast strapped to its back.

How to buy a phone.... (0, Offtopic)

suyashs (645036) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769626)

http://www.rediff.com/money/2005/feb/23spec.htm An indian guide to buying GSM phones...

Re:How to buy a phone.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769899)

Don't they just use smoke signals?

uhh... (2, Funny)

Arctic Dragon (647151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769629)

"It costs around $4, fits in your pocket and runs on air"

Is that a turbine in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

Re:uhh... (4, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769687)

> > "It costs around $4, fits in your pocket and runs on air"
>
> Is that a turbine in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?

From the Department of Industrial Design at Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi.

I believe you meant to say "Please be telling me is in your pocket a turbine, or are you happy to be seeing me?"

Now, if you'll pleased to be pardoning me, I have another caller in my queue. Some woman named Paris Hilton needs to be blowing on my hard drive to reboot her Windows.

Just what I need (0)

Rick the Red (307103) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769631)

The morons around me blabbering on their cell phones will now become the morons around me shouting at their cell phones over the "wokita-wokita" sound of all those air compressors. Thanks, that's just what I needed.

RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769930)

Its not an "air compressor".

What else do you want ? (5, Funny)

davecb (6526) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769643)

How about an adapter to connect it to my propellor beanie?

--dave

What else do you want ? (1)

MasterOfUniverse (812371) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769649)

It costs around $4 As an American Consumer, ofcourse I want it for free!

Re:What else do you want ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769844)

then, as an american consumer, sue them for

compressed air (4, Interesting)

psyklopz (412711) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769657)

I once thought that it might be an interesting idea to store compressed air in a tank and then let it out at a controlled rate to run a turbine.

In essence, the compressed air tank would be a battery (it would 'hold' the energy that was used to pump the compressed air in).

I don't know a lot of about high pressure tanks. Does anyone know if this would work at all? Would all the air come out too quick to make it worthwhile?

Re:compressed air (2, Interesting)

Enigma_Man (756516) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769727)

Anybody who's ever used a pneumatic tool in a shop would probably say it'd work just fine. However, if you've ever seen the size of a tank needed to hold enough air to actually do some work (25 gallons is small) you'd think twice about carrying that around.

-Jesse

Re:compressed air (2, Interesting)

psyklopz (412711) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769796)

I was thinking of it on more of a large-scale. Imagine if you were off-grid, and instead of having a row of chemical batteries, you kept a series of compressed air tanks.

If it would work and provide enough energy, it would also be an environmentally friendly way to store energy for later use.

Kind of the same idea as pumping water into a tower and then later opening the tower at the bottom and using the flowing water to run a generator. In essence, the water tower is your battery, because it is storing energy in the form of gravitational potential.

I just wonder if the air tanks themselves would have to be the size of a house, or if they could be small enough to be manageable.

Re:compressed air (1)

Lucidwray (300955) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769879)

Sounds great.. but dont forget this thing produces 4 watts.. thats 25x less energy than it takes to run a light bulb.

So scale it up, even by a factor of 1000x. (Say the turbine is 3" across.) Now its 250ft tall.. you are generating 4000 watts. That will power about 2 houses, maybe 4 if they are all careful.

Now imagine the airtank to turn a 250ft turbine..

Doesn't scale very well.

Re:compressed air (1)

merlin_jim (302773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769734)

airflow isn't the issue; you can regulate the flow at pretty much any level that's suitable. Power density is the important part; in order for it to be a good idea you've got to be able to put more energy into the storage medium than a similar size/weight battery can hold.

The weight issue isn't that much assuming the turbine is lightweight enough. Size is another issue; but carbon fiber wound air bottles can get 2500 PSI ratings fairly easily so it might be doable...

Re:compressed air (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769773)

A cave diving buddy used to use spun aluminum 104 cubic foot tanks for just about all of his dives... 3000+ psi. Full weight is about what a steel 50 cubic foot tank weights "empty".

Re:compressed air: not efficient (3, Insightful)

spectrokid (660550) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769842)

there's this physics law that sais air gets hot when you compress it. If the tank is not insulated it will cool down to room temperature again and you lose quite some energy. There are however examples, there is even a car which runs on compressed air, and in the good old days of steam, they used comp. air locomotives e.g. in ammo factories and other places where you might want to avoid fire.

What's next? (4, Funny)

bigtallmofo (695287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769658)

We've seen hand cranking chargers [edn.com], now windmill charging... How long until someone packages and sells a DIY Dam & Hydroelectric Cell Charging kit?

Also, I understand that Iran is currently importing plutonium from Russia in an attempt to make a personal, portable nuclear reactor capable of charging cell phones.

Re:What's next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769729)

Yeah, ssuurreee that's what Iran wants portable nuclear capability for, and I'll bet you think Iraq never had weapons of mass destru...oh, wait, nevermind.

What else do I want? (1)

PierceLabs (549351) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769660)

To see it running in person on a phone that I already own and then have a place where I can order it :)

But, (5, Funny)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769662)

How long does it take to charge, and wouldn't you have to leave it somewehre with a constant air flow? Like, outside, or in front of a fan, or does it strap to your side so it uses the breeze when you walk?

I can just imagine someone talking and their battery's about to die, and all the other person on the other end hears is "Wait, my phone is dying...hold on a sec *blowing sound* Ok, now where were we..*blowing sound*...Oh yes, about the *blowing sound*..."

Re:But, (2, Funny)

rd4tech (711615) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769797)

...*blowing sound*... and ...*blowing sound*... call me a ...*blowing sound*... ambula.......... ...*decaying whistling sound*...

I would like 1000 of those please. (1)

Barryke (772876) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769669)

It costs around $4, fits in your pocket and runs on air ;-). What else do you want ?"
Then I would take 1000 of those, and never see that electricity bill anymore. I'd rather feul my mobile phone with alcohol :)

air vs wind (4, Interesting)

Hanzie (16075) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769671)

I think it might be a little more correct to substitute "wind power" for "air" in the writeup.

Essentially, the idea is to incorporate a windmill to power the phone.

Saying the phone is "Air" powered implys (to me, at least) that some chemical reaction is taking place using oxygen or nitrogen.

It is a cool idea, and the article implies that normal winds are sufficient to power the cell phone.

If the generator is small enough to actually be part of a cell phone, I'd think that scaling the design up might make economic sense for generating normal electric power. Unfortunately, there weren't any specifics, so it is tough to make any extrapolations.

Other good uses too (5, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769672)

I just realized, there are other good uses for "blow phones" too: simply add a breathalyzer to avoid those embarrassing late night drunken calls to your ex.

Re:Other good uses too (-1, Troll)

tooley (63773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769753)

And of course there are the usual other ways to avoid that.

1. Don't get drunk. What does it really benefit you?
2. Don't get an ex - choose your relationship carefully and don't treat it lightly.
3. Don't stay up late - there is no use for this, as it lowers your mental capacity further.

Peace,
-tooley-

Re:Other good uses too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769828)

Damn, you must be fun to be around.

Re:Other good uses too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769881)

Yeah, okay, mom.

Re:Other good uses too (1)

rd4tech (711615) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769817)

Police officer: "No sir, this isn't drinking control, but do you mind blowing here and recharging my phone a bit, I'm kinda out or air lately"..

Ok then... (3, Interesting)

Cheerio Boy (82178) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769681)

Tell me why if this model produces 3 - 4 watts of energy why they can't cover the blades of larger windmills with these things or better yet design the blades so they have edge holes with these things inside.

The wind blows the large blades which causes air to flow through the smaller fans.

Of course you could probably put up walls of these things in windy areas and get the same results.

Any thoughts on this?

Re:Ok then... (1)

modecx (130548) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769809)

Wind turbines are already pretty darn efficient, somehow I doubt putting a bunch of smaller turbines on the leding edge of a larger turbine would be any more efficient or cost effective...

What else do I want? (0, Offtopic)

Stalyn (662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769697)

maybe a charger that not only works via blowing but sucking as well... specifically slashdot.

Answer me this... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769719)

Why is Europe experiencing such a virulent resurgence of anti-Semitism? You Europeans of all people should know better...

Re:Answer me this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769864)

Jewbagels. Hot toasty Jewbagels here!

Will my battery explode . . . (1)

93,000 (150453) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769720)

if I clip it outside the window of my car when driving on interstate?

What more could you want? (1)

gambit3 (463693) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769728)

"It costs around $4, fits in your pocket and runs on air ;-). What else do you want ?"

Yeah, try and explain THAT to the airport security guard when he pulls you outta the line

We want truth in summaries... (2, Informative)

_mythdraug_ (27158) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769730)

What else do you want?
Summaries that are closer to the reality of the article.
It costs around $4.
"The technique is not yet commercialised but the department has sent a proposal to the ministry of science and technology to help manufacture the turbine on a large scale, Das said."

"What else do you want ?" (1)

SillySnake (727102) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769747)

Well.. since you asked.. I want it to run Linux, does it?

And I want it to stop all the Soviet Russia Jokes too.. And the ones about clods too..

Re:"What else do you want ?" [OFFTOPIC] (1)

narcc (412956) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769913)

In Korea, only old people want to stop the country jokes, you insensitive clod.

Of course, no one posts country jokes...in Japan!

I don't know why people want to stop the running jokes so much. (Hell, bitching about the running jokes seems to be getting as bad as the jokes themselves.) Without our subculture [wikipedia.org], Slashdot wouldn't be what it is today. We'd probably all just sit around thinking of Natalie Portman while pouring hot grits down our pants...except in Nebraska.

A better idea! (3, Insightful)

STratoHAKster (30309) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769748)

They sell radios that can be charged by turning a crank, why not sell a cell phone charger that works that way?

Rocket in My Pocket (1, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769751)

"The device is best suited for coastal areas where the wind flows almost continuously."

How about just whirling in circles the dinky turbine by the cord by which it attaches to the recharging phone? Why bother waiting for the wind when you can wind your phone instead?

Correction (0, Redundant)

rbrome (175029) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769784)

Ahem... it does not run on "air", it runs on "wind". Big differece. If it ran on "air" you'd think it worked by burning oxygen, etc., which is definitely not what it does.

Crank Alternative (4, Interesting)

4of12 (97621) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769786)

Compressed air is an interesting idea for storing energy.

But I have to wonder how it compares to the alternatives.

How about a capacitor [electricitystorage.org] bank and a hand-crank generator [pasco.com]?

If you're out of compressed gas or batteries in the middle of nowhere it's hard to replenish your cell phone. Turning a hand crank would make use of cheap, available human power.

$4? No it doesn't (4, Insightful)

DrXym (126579) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769821)

If / when it appears in a commercial form it might costs $4 in India perhaps. But in the US it will cost $50.

Why? Because people are suckers.

Invented in India? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769839)

I thought everything was invented in the U.S.

I wish I'd have thought of that... (1)

userw014 (707413) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769843)

Most of the replies I've seen here seem to disparage the idea. On the other hand, I think it's a great idea. I think we all wish we'd have thought of it ourselves first ;-)

The application for this kind of thing where the electrical grid isn't pervasive, and where telephone systems have skipped past wired-lines and straight to cell-phones is obvious. Interestingly (to me), that includes recreational cycling and day-trips to parks & beaches here in the USofA. After all, if all I need to do to keep a cell-phone charged is to bolt a turbine like this to my bike, or stick it on top of my picnic-cooler, then it makes a cell-phone more attactive to me. (I'm a bit of a neo-luddite, I suppose, as I don't have one.)

4W for $4 would be significant (3, Funny)

shlashdot (689477) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769850)

That's $1 per watt, which is the holy grail of renewable energy technologies, being the approximate cost of conventional power plants.

not really wind! You're pirating energy! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769875)

Using this device, which sounds from the article like it can only be used while in a moving vehicle, actually does not produce free energy, as the car, bus, or train will experience more drag and thus use more energy. Assuming that this turbine is not a perfect theoretical turbine, the energy lost by the car, bus, or train will be more than ends up in the cellphone, due to the added drag of a turbine.

Gee, thanks scooter... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11769878)

That'll do us a lot of good here in the US provided I can get the ice cold air conditioning in my Escalade cranked up on high to blow on your little charger.

I realize you designed it to work by sticking it out the window of that decrepit bus that you and 160 other people are riding on (or perhaps on top of)...

As long as it is not part of the cell phone itself (1)

Demodian (658895) | more than 9 years ago | (#11769880)

Another excuse for rude people to talk excessively loud in public!

"Please make stop him, Mommy..."

"I'm sorry, Sweetie... his batteries are not dying and he will not shut up!"
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