New 'E-Kaia' technology harvests excess energy from plants to charge mobile phones

article thumbnail

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content.

In want of a free wall outlet, future mobile phone users could simply plug in to the nearest cactus thanks to a new system called E-Kaia —  developed by a team of researchers in Chile —  that collects the leftover energy from photosynthesis.

E-Kaia can charge small devices, like mobile phones or LED lights, using a single healthy plant. As noted by the Manquehue Institute, the E-Kaia team says its invention can output as much as 5 volts at 0.6 amps.

For comparison, Apple's ultra-compact USB power adapter —  included with the iPhone — pushes 5 volts at 1 amp.

Energy is captured from the plant via a "biocircuit board," though further details of E-Kaia's inner workings are scant. The group is reluctant to say more while its patents are still under review.

Creators Evelyn Aravena, Carolina Guerrero, and Camila Rupcich hope to commercialize E-Kaia this year, having received funding from the economic development arm of the Chilean government.

E-Kaia is not the first system of this type, but if the technology holds up it would prove to be by far the most efficient. Plant-e, based in the Netherlands, says its competing solution requires 100 square meters of plants to harvest a similar amount of energy.