Mobile phones in developing nations could charge up using dirt
A Harvard team is developing a microbial fuel cell-based mobile phone charger, that would allow people in developing nations to charge their phones using microbes in the soil.
There's no doubt that residents of developing nations can benefit hugely from having mobile phones. This particularly applies to the field of medicine, as the phones allow people living in remote areas to contact health care practitioners, or to use health care apps. Given how unreliable the electrical grid can be in such countries, however, keeping those phones charged can be a challenge. That's why a team from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) is working on a microbial fuel cell-based charger – a mobile phone charging system that gets its power from microbes in the soil.
Once they're ready to go, Aiden plans on distributing the chargers within a region of Sub-Saharan Africa, as part of a field study. Ultimately, however, she would like to see the local people being able to build their own, using readily-available materials such as window screens and soda cans. She believes that a complete device could be assembled from scratch in just a few minutes, at a cost of less than a dollar. It should be able to fully charge a phone within 24 hours.