Researchers at MIT have discovered a non-toxic method for generating portable power that may make eco-friendly charging a sweeter affair. By burning fuel-coated carbon nanotubes like a fuse, the technology can currently power an LED light— but will soon provide enough charge for smartphones and mobile devices.
Though sugar is the initial substance used in developing the technology, any heat source can be used if found to be more efficient. This is akin to Doc Brown’s Flux Capacitator device in the Back to the Future movie series: though initially powered by plutonium, the device is later modified to run on household garbage—a more sustainable, readily-available energy source.
More details about the device can be found in a new paper published in Energy & Environmental Science. According to the paper, a pressing need exists for alternatives to conventional batteries such as Li-ion. “Thermopower wave (TPW) devices, which convert chemical to electrical energy by means of self-propagating reaction waves guided along nanostructured thermal conduits, have the potential to address this demand.”