Print 61 comment(s) - last by ZoeAnderson24.. on Apr 22 at 2:54 PM

The PowerPot is a thermoelectric generator

A student startup from Utah has created a cooking pot that is capable of generating power through thermoelectricity. 

Former University of Utah students David Toledo and Paul Slusser created a startup called Power Practical, which offers their cooking pot invention -- the PowerPot

The PowerPot looks like a regular cooking pot that can be used on a camping trip, but it can actually turn heat and water into electricity. The PowerPot captures electrons traveling from the heated pot to the cooler water contained inside, and the greater the difference in temperature, the more electricity produced. 

The team invented the PowerPot in 2008 when they bought a thermoelectric cooling device from eBay (they were learning about thermoelectricity at the time in class). They proceeded to take it apart and try to improve it, and decided to create something that could generate power. 

They built the first prototype months later using an old cooking pot, but after a few hiccups, both students moved on to other projects (and schools/careers).

Toledo later found a cheap power regulator designed for hobbyists, which was exactly what they needed to make their PowerPot useful by providing a steady power stream.

Power Practical has already shipped over 1,000 PowerPots and is offering them in select retailers like Sportsman's Warehouse. The startup managed to generate $126,000 in funding on Kickstarter, and has since raised an additional $750,000 in seed funding. 

"We knew we were on to something when we got requests from around the world and more than doubled our goal during our Kickstarter campaign," said Toledo. "We just shipped all of those orders, and we are quickly getting our product into more stores."

Power Practical has different kinds of PowerPots for different purposes. For instance, there's the PowerPot V, which weighs less than a pound and can produce 5 volts, and the PowerPot X, which produces 10 volts. 

Not only can these PowerPots be used to charge smartphones, tablets and other electronic devices on camping trips, but they can also be used in emergency kits and eventually be sent to developing countries, where smartphones are becoming more and more present (yet charging is a nuisance).

The PowerPot V costs $149 while the PowerPot X costs $249. 

Source: Science Daily

Comments     Threshold

This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

By chripuck on 4/17/2013 1:33:10 PM , Rating: 1
What about a generator? We need to spend $200 on a cooking pot that doubles as a generator... why couldn't someone just invent a generator for under a $100?

RE: Really?
By chripuck on 4/17/2013 1:34:37 PM , Rating: 2
And it looks like someone pointed out a similar product that more closely fits my bill.

RE: Really?
By GreenEnvt on 4/17/2013 1:52:26 PM , Rating: 5
Um, this is many orders of times simpler than a gasoline generator. It should also be much more reliable and portable.

Can you lug around a gas generator and it's fuel with you on a hike through the woods to your camp site? Is it an option in developing countries?

This design has it's place. Simple, can use anything that burns as a power source. This means felled trees, remains of your house after an earthquake, etc..

RE: Really?
By HostileEffect on 4/17/13, Rating: 0
RE: Really?
By Motoman on 4/17/2013 3:09:47 PM , Rating: 5
Solar roll - only works during the day.

Other things fall under "first world problems"

The biggest opportunity for something like this is developing nations. People who otherwise might not have any access to any electricity at all. And since you're always going to be cooking your dinner anyway...capture some of that excess energy that's released by burning your fuel and turn it into electricity.

RE: Really?
By HostileEffect on 4/17/2013 3:41:42 PM , Rating: 2
Solar roll + recharge battery. I also dont always get to cook my food due to amount of water and weight.

RE: Really?
By Motoman on 4/17/2013 4:01:41 PM , Rating: 1
Batteries eventually fail, and then they're so much toxic waste.

Also, solar panels tend to be somewhat fragile.

This pot, though, could concievably last for generations.

RE: Really?
By HostileEffect on 4/17/2013 4:13:04 PM , Rating: 1
This pot is about as uselesss as a bag of bricks.

You must buy some cheap batteries if they fail on you and field durable solar rolls are cheap enough. A roll is durable enough if it survives being crammed in an already over stuffed pack and thrown in a truck. If your so worried, get a storm or pelican case! I use a case on my laptop to keep it crush resistant.

RE: Really?
By chromal on 4/17/2013 4:22:05 PM , Rating: 2
Motoman is right and you are (perhaps intentionally?) missing the point. Understand, this is a specialized product that meets a very specific need. If you are off grid in the middle of nowhere, "just go buy more batteries," doesn't fly. Solar is useless at night, and fragile. Generators (and fuel for) as well as batteries may represent additional weight to haul, whereas a cookpot does not, necessarily. Maybe you need the ability to make power indefinitely without access to gas or batteries or manufactured goods.

RE: Really?
By HostileEffect on 4/17/2013 4:35:44 PM , Rating: 1
I am off grid often enough for months as a time, you use solar to charge devices and a rechargeable power pack in the day, use the battery at night. I also use disposable 5590s that I can bury when dead. They arent small and I never said go buy more batteries.

Ive seen guys using broken and cracked bargin brand solar chargers to keep their phones running. The cheap ones suck but still work even when beat to death.

RE: Really?
By web2dot0 on 4/17/2013 6:08:11 PM , Rating: 2
What's more fragile .... a solar panel or a metal pot? Right ...

Why do you always assume you know more than someone? There's a reason why they got good response from KickStarter. Your solar panel idea? Not so much ....

End of Story.

RE: Really?
By HostileEffect on 4/17/2013 10:10:30 PM , Rating: 1
Ask the guys I work with, metal pots are not that durable. Its rather incredible what people can break around here especially while drunk.

RE: Really?
By 91TTZ on 4/18/2013 4:07:04 PM , Rating: 2
By themselves the solar panel is probably more fragile. Now once you compare the solar panel sitting in the sun to a pot sitting in a fire, I think the solar panel will be more reliable. The pot's wiring will eventually get burned in the fire. You're probably supposed to keep it out of the flames but good luck doing that with a campfire.

RE: Really?
By 91TTZ on 4/18/2013 4:12:00 PM , Rating: 2
Why do you always assume you know more than someone? There's a reason why they got good response from KickStarter. Your solar panel idea? Not so much .... End of Story.

You sound pretty dumb. You're either trolling or just too dumb to participate in this debate.

Someone's "solar panel idea"? Solar panels are established. They're known to work. They're not just an "idea", they are actual, mainstream products. That's more than you can say for this thing. This is still an idea.

RE: Really?
By Motoman on 4/17/2013 7:23:23 PM , Rating: 2

People in developing countries are "off grid" for their entire lives. There are no batteries. There's no place to get batteries, and even if there was the people who live there have no money to buy them with.

If you want to go and be "off grid" in the mountains somewhere with your solar panel, rechargable batteries, and Gameboy - you just knock yourself out there, Unabomber.

Leave the intelligent discussion here to the adults and run along.

RE: Really?
By Reclaimer77 on 4/17/2013 9:38:24 PM , Rating: 1
People in developing countries can't afford this product. Ironic right? This thing cost as much as some people make in a year!

The image you're painting, dirt poor people generating power from this product, is NOT a reality.

and even if there was the people who live there have no money to buy them with.


RE: Really?
By HostileEffect on 4/17/2013 9:58:44 PM , Rating: 3
I didn't catch the fact the conversation went from camping and hiking to third world countries, I've been reading and posting from a phone as I'm on my feet most of the day.

In the third world countries I've been to, the every day people have small solar panels on the roof that they use to charge their cell phones, DVD players and yes, laptops. The wealthy use very small generators. Everything from multi-tools, solar setups, to electronics and computers were available in the markets. BTW, this was a slum too.

Unless you mean the most remote, backwards end of Africa where a product like this will never be seen. If someone over there has a device that uses this insignificant amount of power then they probably already have a way to charge it.

RE: Really?
By Motoman on 4/17/2013 10:59:54 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't catch the fact the conversation went from camping and hiking to third world countries you actually didn't read the *very first* post I made before responding to it?

And it's not a matter of the people in these developing countries not having the money to buy such products in the first place. This is exactly the type of thing that charity organizations buy in bulk to hand out to those in need. Like water purification systems, just for another example.

Because of the extreme simplicity of this device, and it's obvious utility in both cooking and then using leftover heat energy to generate electricity, this would be perfect for giving out to people in developing countries. It might mean that the recipient then becomes a candidate to have something else given to, a phone. Or a radio. Something else that needs electricity that they have no other way to get.

So just knock it off. This is a fabulous product and frankly you idiots should be proud of a couple of American kids coming up with it and getting it to market.

RE: Really?
By Spuke on 4/18/2013 1:04:22 AM , Rating: 2
This is exactly the type of thing that charity organizations buy in bulk to hand out to those in need.
So these charities can't/don't hand out solar panels but they can hand out a pot?

Because of the extreme simplicity of this device,
So what's not simple about an off the shelf solar panel and some batteries? Products that have been available and in use for years. Yes I'm talking about third world countries.

So just knock it off. This is a fabulous product and frankly you idiots should be proud of a couple of American kids coming up with it and getting it to market.
You knock it off. No one said it was stupid, just that there's other products that fit the bill for many years now.

RE: Really?
By Motoman on 4/18/2013 10:16:10 AM , Rating: 2
So these charities can't/don't hand out solar panels but they can hand out a pot?

Yes, they can/do. However, a pot is significantly more durable than a solar panel, and this device happens to perform 2 important functions at the same time.

So what's not simple about an off the shelf solar panel and some batteries? Products that have been available and in use for years. Yes I'm talking about third world countries.

Simple? Sure. But fragile, and eventually the batteries die. Then what? A charity can hand out one pot to a family and possibly have them covered for generations. Or, they can perpetually be managing logistics to replace broken solar panels and dead batteries. And finding a way to safely dispose of both when they die.

You knock it off. No one said it was stupid, just that there's other products that fit the bill for many years now.

This is better. For the mind-bogglingly obvious reasons stated above. So...knock it off.

RE: Really?
By HostileEffect on 4/18/2013 1:11:00 AM , Rating: 2
Its not that I didn't read it, its the fact that when looking at a tiny little screen between your legs in a death-by-powerpoint presentation on how raping people is bad, some things get missed.

The only charity I found was the ridiculous amount of drugs for the local clinics and not one of those people had a clue on which drug to administer for what. Usually, the drugs were sold or given away. The number of police I had asking me which bottle was for headaches...

Well water is hand pumped and used for cooking, no purification systems to speak of, they don't need them. Everything else is ditch water and is drinkable by locals only. You kind of have to have a tolerance to the bacteria in it or its dysentery for you. Not half bad as shower water as long as you pump it full of chlorine.

It would be fabulous if there weren't better alternatives that are already available , even in third world rat holes. This is reality, its on you if you accept it or not.

RE: Really?
By Crazyeyeskillah on 4/18/2013 8:44:44 AM , Rating: 2
i'd like to know more about this power point presentation you speak of. . .

RE: Really?
By Motoman on 4/18/2013 10:19:02 AM , Rating: 2
You're infinitely wrong about everything you just said. Other than the part about raping people being bad.

There most certainly *are* charities that do nothing but hand out water purification systems for one thing...and many other items, whether you personally have seen them or not.

You examples of solar panels and batteries are NOT BETTER ALTERNATIVES. They are incredibly worse, for reasons I've already stated, and you are invalid for pretending they're not.

So once again, if you want to play hermit in the hills of Kentucky with your iPod and some batteries, knock yourself out. Whatever it takes to keep you away from the rest of us.

RE: Really?
By 91TTZ on 4/18/2013 4:20:09 PM , Rating: 2
You're being really hard on this guy for speaking from experience. It sounds to me that this guy has actual experience being off the grid while you don't but are emotionally invested in this idea.

RE: Really?
By HostileEffect on 4/18/2013 5:15:09 PM , Rating: 2
There isn't any "want" to this, I'm required me to be in a field environment for months at a time and over the years I learned from experience what works and what doesn't. Do not associate me with Apple devices, they are an impossible waste of money.

Solar has been available for years, probably decades, in developing countries and nearly every house I passed had at least one panel. In what world of yours is this glorified canteen cup better than putting panels on the roof of your mud hut?

I cooked on a propane powered stove for three months in a third world country until I changed positions. I bought fresh eggs, chips, soda, canned beans, etc, from the local gas station that was literally 15 feet from my post, he even sold butter and salt. Also, get this, he had a cell phone, panels on his roof, and his own cell tower, which is very common.

These people are not the helpless impoverished weaklings that big charity and the media portray them as.

RE: Really?
By Fritzr on 4/20/2013 3:26:10 AM , Rating: 2
They are not selling these to the farmers and small shop keepers who are off grid. They are selling them to hikers and others who plan to be off grid, moving during daylight hours and not maintaining a fixed home.

When you carry everything you own so that you have it when you next have a chance to sit down, dual use stops being a luxury and becomes necessity. Yes, a light weight solar charger would make a nice backup to this, but if you have to choose between a cooking pot plus charger or a cooking pot charger...well which is going to lighten the load?

This is NOT being sold as a 3rd world solution for living off grid. It is a 1st world solution for traveling off grid without a logistics train.

RE: Really?
By HostileEffect on 4/20/2013 10:46:15 PM , Rating: 2
A luxury for me is a truck to carry me and my pack.

You do realize the resources needed to keep this thing running right? Time, water, fuel (wood or otherwise), its not worth the insignificant amount of power it provides, hiking or otherwise.

There was a Hawaiian culture party and booths setup outside the Exchange today, one of which just happened to be a company that is trying to get into the retail market with their new solar product line. Its unfortunate that I will be doing my annual qualifications during their one day sale but I'm seeing if I can get one set aside for me.

They are MIL-STD-810G spec folding solar panels that can get punished into oblivion and keep running. High strength plastics and lamentation prevent spider-webbing, nylon straps, the whole ten yards, all in a compact 2.2Lbs for the 42 watt version.

Green path technologies makes them, however they are not yet available for retail.

Links to spec and personal pictures of some products.

RE: Really?
By BRB29 on 4/22/2013 11:48:55 AM , Rating: 2
He is right, no matter where I've been in the world. Cell phones, CIGARETTES, batteries, etc... are abundant. I've been to a lot of 3rd world countries and never could I say it's a vacation. Honestly, I've gotten much further trading a good pair of boots, swiss army knives, etc... than any amount of money.

In these places, necessities > everything. If you go far enough that you don't see any of these stuff then it won't matter anyways. What's a cellphone worth if you don't have any signals? I can bring more gear to make it work only if mission requires. Weight is a big problem. A GPS and long range radio is enough for me most of the time. I find alternative transport during high sun or stay in a shady spot to conserve water and energy. Good time to roll out the solar kit to charge electronics.

HostileEffect is also right that solar charging panels are everywhere. Everyone had one including me. Still, GPS does not always work and break sometimes. Your survival gear, map, compass is worth more than anything else.

This pot is really good for normal folks in 1st world countries going camping.

RE: Really?
By superflex on 4/22/2013 11:36:12 AM , Rating: 2
Tell us about all your backpacking gear and experience in the field. Who makes the best internal frame pack in your opinion? What do you personally carry for a stove, mess kit, water purification, first aid, etc. Is a Katadyn worth the money? Are Vasques better than Merrels? Campmor or REI?
I'd really like to her about all your third world/backpacking experiences.
Me thinks you just like to argue on the internet.

RE: Really?
By BRB29 on 4/22/2013 1:10:53 PM , Rating: 2
armchair warriors doesn't have experience or insights, just complaints.

RE: Really?
By Fritzr on 4/20/2013 3:17:12 AM , Rating: 2
Batteries fail quickly ... they are good again after you get home and recharge them ... or you could simply hook the charger to the power pot while you are toasting marshmallows under starlight that is too dim to power your solar cells.

RE: Really?
By NellyFromMA on 4/18/2013 12:41:59 PM , Rating: 2
Great point. I found this to be irrelevant at first. While I still somewhat think that, I can absolutely see how in a developing nation this would be a viable thing. Except, for the price tag...

140 USD is crushing in developing nations and many would be considered well-to-do if they made $150 USD in a month...

RE: Really?
By Motoman on 4/18/2013 1:31:15 PM , Rating: 2
As noted, the expectation would be that charity organizations would buy these things in bulk and donate them to those in need.

No one is presuming that the actual people in need are going to have the funds or other means to purchase such things themselves.

RE: Really?
By 91TTZ on 4/18/2013 4:17:26 PM , Rating: 2
A solar panel, mounted in an area that isn't handled, is much more reliable than a device that has to sit in fire to function. If you let it run out of water and get it too hot it will break, and the wires will probably get charred by the fire.

The product could work, but it won't work as well as cheaper, more practical products.

RE: Really?
By inperfectdarkness on 4/19/2013 11:25:07 AM , Rating: 2
Better still, this could soon be part of issued survival equipment for downed aircrew. Being able to charge your CSEL batteries would greatly benefit isolated personnel who normally have only a brief amount of time to use their communications/GPS devices before the batteries die.

Granted, it's not a perfect solution, (campfire smoke might give away position, etc) but it's still an improvement.

RE: Really?
By marvdmartian on 4/18/2013 7:44:06 AM , Rating: 2
Let me repeat the question already asked:
Is it an option in developing countries?

Try to think beyond your first world problems, where "roughing it" likely means going to places where your iphone only gets 1-bar reception!

RE: Really?
By superflex on 4/22/2013 11:22:18 AM , Rating: 2
If you want to burn felled trees, you better be prepared to carry a chainsaw, handsaw or axe through the woods so you can send your bff an instagram of the pretty trees.
You want to burn the remains of your earthquake ravaged home, enjoy the toxic fumes of paints and stains, pressure treated wood, etc just so you can get a facebook update.
How long is the cord on this stupid invention. Hopefully long enough to shield your precious idevice from the heat of a campfire. Batteries and heat are such a great mix.

"Game reviewers fought each other to write the most glowing coverage possible for the powerhouse Sony, MS systems. Reviewers flipped coins to see who would review the Nintendo Wii. The losers got stuck with the job." -- Andy Marken

Latest Headlines

Most Popular ArticlesAre you ready for this ? HyperDrive Aircraft
September 24, 2016, 9:29 AM
Leaked – Samsung S8 is a Dream and a Dream 2
September 25, 2016, 8:00 AM
Inspiron Laptops & 2-in-1 PCs
September 25, 2016, 9:00 AM
Snapchat’s New Sunglasses are a Spectacle – No Pun Intended
September 24, 2016, 9:02 AM
Walmart may get "Robot Shopping Carts?"
September 17, 2016, 6:01 AM

Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki