One Puck heat engine will ensure your phone's battery never dies

Portable smartphone chargers are a somewhat boringly common idea, but Epiphany Labs’ One Puck (funding April 6) is different. Most chargers compete by being as unobtrusive and convenient as possible, and Epiphany Labs’ offering certainly does not fit those descriptions but that doesn’t make it any less appealing.

Epiphany Labs’ One Puck is a miniaturization of Robert Stirling’s heat engine connected to a USB port. Through differential temperatures between the object’s two halves, varying amounts of electricity, directly related to temperature, are produced—enough to charge any device that uses 1000mA or less. While operating under peak efficiency (with mild temperatures), energy is stored up to be delivered at 5V (a total of 5 watts).

The device is being advertised primarily in terms of its practicality, but its true appeal lies in the fact it’s a tiny USB Stirling engine. Those words tend conjure images of ungainly copper models or massive industrial iron structures, but here we have a working prototype the size and shape of a, well, puck. Conceivably, you could strap the device to your chest and wade out into a cold day’s crisp air, the device producing electricity like a counterfeit version of Iron Man’s arc reactor.

With the $99 early bird special sold out, the current minimum of $115 will net you a single One Puck, your choice of one tee shirt design, and a windshield sticker. Offer $20 more and you may have your puck delivered with custom engraving. But don’t expect to see the One Puck until March 2014.

Confidence level

Given that Epiphany Labs has already met its funding goal, and its sister company, Epiphany Solar Water Systems, and its engineers have considerable experience developing a solar-powered water purification system, the likelihood of the One Puck functioning as claimed is very high.

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