What works on camping trips can also be useful during disasters and in emerging markets. The JikoPower Spark is a lightweight, portable thermoelectric generator (TEG) that converts waste heat into electricity that can be used to charge and power USB devices. The Spark is currently in a Kickstarter campaign that also focuses on its work in Kenya to bring power to an area where cell phones are common but electricity is not, according to GeekWire.
JikoPower’s goal is to provide people electric power to save energy from other sources, to light their homes, and to stay connected. The company works with communities of rural entrepreneurs to help them save costly kerosene and the time they would ordinarily spend walking to town to charge their cellphones. For some people, that can save up to 12 hours a week and $27 a month in kerosene. They can also make money by letting others use the Spark for a fee to charge their phones.
The JikoPower Spark is useful for campers who no longer have to carry batteries when they go backcountry and still be prepared for emergencies. During power outages, the JikoPower generator can help people stay connected and call for emergency relief.
The Spark works via an embedded thermoelectric chip that converts heat to electricity. The greater the difference in temperature on the two sides of the chip, the more electricity is created. A heat probe extended into a fire transfers heat to one side of the chip. A reservoir filled with water keeps one side of the chip relatively cool. Even if the water is boiling, its temperature can be lower the metal arm facing a fire or stove, so electricity can still be generated. The Spark has a heat tolerance of up to 600-degrees Centigrade (1,112 Fahrenheit) and a power output of two to five watts. The Spark can charge cell phones, LED lights, and other small devices.