Like something out of a middle school science fair project, (a ton of) potatoes and apples can be used to charge smartphones. Instead of having to utilize 800 pieces of produce to generate a charge, a Barcelona-based company, Arkyne Technologies, wants to use a single plant.
The company’s product, a pot called the Bioo Lite, uses the energy generated by photosynthesis to charge smartphones. It’s an idea scientists have been researching for several years. If you remember back to science class, photosynthesis is the process by which sunlight is used to turn CO2, and water into oxygen and organic compounds. Bacteria in the pot breaks up the compounds, releasing electrons that travel along nanowires. The resulting electricity powers a typical USB port, where you can plug in your phone or tablet cable.
Arkyne Technologies claims the pot allows up to three charges per day. The plant generates power both day and night, so users can charge their phones anytime. How long will it take for your smartphone to be fully charged? It depends on the phone’s battery capacity, but it should be similar to using your computer to juice up your device, according to the company. However, the output of 3.5 volts and 500 milliamps is actually a little less than many USB ports. Not all plants produce the same amount of electricity, so cacti aren’t recommended. Bioo Lite will only work while the plant is alive, so taking care of the plant is crucial. If you kill your little green friend, you’ll have to replace it with a new one.
The 8.2-by-4.3-by-4.3-inch (21-by-11-by-11 centimeter) pot is available for an early bird special of roughly $112 on Indiegogo. The company already surpassed its goal of raising nearly $17,000 and is estimated to begin shipping as early as December 2016. Like other Indiegogo campaigns, back at your own risk.