The PowerPot: New Technology Promises to Bring Electricity to the Developing World

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A tech start-up is set to use its new product, the PowerPot, to bring electricity to people living off-the-grid in developing nations. Over 200 million people in Africa alone have a cellphone but don’t have a way to charge it. Many walk over a mile to find a micro-charging business just to stay powered.

The pwer pot with african woman being used on a three stone fire.

The PowerPot being used on a three stone fire in Ghana to generate electricity.

“People are DYING for free power here, ” Angie Thompson said, “They have a lot of electrical issues and are still cooking on rocks... It’s been excitedly received wherever it goes.”

To address this challenge, Power Practical, based in Salt Lake City, Utah, has developed the PowerPot, a thermoelectric generator that doubles as a cooking vessel. When placed on a stove or fire it converts the transfer of heat into electricity. This makes it useful for charging phones, meaning it could be a literal life saver.

Designed for use over an open fire, the PowerPot comes equipped with heat-resistant cabling and can withstand temperatures of up to 300 C. A silicon coating protects it from the environment, making it water-resistant and impermeable to mud, dirt and dust. This makes it especially well-suited to the off-grid lifestyle, where cooking usually takes place on an open fire.

The device was recently field-tested in a rural village in Ghana. Angie Thompson, a school teacher and field-tester for Power Practical is assessing the impact of the PowerPot on rural life. It was well received and proved especially useful during inclimate weather.

"People are DYING for free power here, ” said Thompson, “They have a lot of electrical issues and are still cooking on rocks."

Putting this technology in the hands of those who need it most is no easy endeavor. To help, the company has launched a kickstarter campaign. Supporters can pre-order a PowerPot for themselves for $125 or send a PowerPot to those in need in developing nations for $99. They initially plan to ship the units to Uganda, Ghana, and India.

In these regions of the world, hundreds of millions go without regular access to electricity. Since natural gas is scarce people typically use wood fires everyday to prepare their food. The PowerPot fits perfectly into this routine, enabling off-grid users to charge their personal devices and lighting by doing something they do everyday.

The kickstarter campaign has been a huge success. The funding goal was met within 10 days and over 100 PowerPots are already slated to head overseas. The company hopes to increase this number before the 30-day campaign ends on May 4th at 11:54 AM Eastern. Interested backers can head over to their kickstarter page to pledge.

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David Toledo
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