My wife showed me this really great project called Shake Your Power. I recommend backing their project up on kickstarter. The project is lead by a great musician called Sudha Kheterpal. It’s a good way of transforming kinetic energy to electricity. I’m not going to go into details on how it’s doing it, because their video is doing a great job.
My question on twitter to them was about the support behind this product (especially dead batteries). And their answer was that they wanted to hear my engineering ideas. Here they are:
First of all this is not an engineering issue (unless you want to solve one of the world’s biggest problems: concentrating energy in a reusable and tiny format). My question was more along the lines: What will these people do when their batteries are end of life? And this actually is a support issue.
You are working on a product that will change people’s life for good. People will depend on this product for their main portable electric source.
I’m assuming that the battery is a LiPo (or Li-ion) type. These type of batteries have a lifespan of 300-500 charges. After that, their output starts to degrade significantly. If we are talking about Africa, another factor will be temperatures over 30º C. High temperatures put even more stress on LiPo batteries.
With everyday charging and using, you will most likely get 1-2 years of life from these batteries. And when these batteries are dead, they will need replacing. And if people cannot find electricity, they probably will not be able to find special LiPo batteries.
My recommendation is simple: Leave the charger unit in the shaker just like the way it is. Replace your batteries with easy to find, rechargeable AA batteries.
Or better, build a support infrastructure behind this project that will find the owner and replace the batteries let’s say every 2 years. It might be a bigger challenge than engineering this product, but your change will be permanent!
I just don’t want this to be yet another western project that reaches out to developing countries and forgets about the people that they touched within a few years.