Scientists from the University of Southampton have conducted research, looking into whether the power of lightning – instead of scaring us — could be adapted for personal use, which if successful, would provide people with a revolutionary, sustainable way to charge devices like mobile phones.
The University’s Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory undertook research to try and find out if natural power resources could charge a mobile phone, using an energy simulation similar to that of a bolt of lightning.
Scientist Neil Palmer from the University said researchers were encouraged by the potential of such an idea after being able to successfully charge a phone using the energy simulation.
“Using an alternating current driven by a transformer, over 200,000 volts was sent across a 300mm gap – giving heat and light similar to that of a lightning bolt. The signal was then stepped into a second controlling transformer, allowing us to charge the phone,” he said.
He also said that the research showed there could be a time when we throw away traditional phone chargers in favour of a cordless charging system.
“We were amazed to see that the [phone’s] circuitry somehow stabilised the noisy signal, allowing the battery to be charged. This discovery proves devices can be charged with a current that passes through the air, and is a huge step towards understanding a natural power like lightning and harnessing its energy.”
Although the initial results from the experiment are promising, it’s not yet known if and when natural light can be controlled and used on such a scale that it could safely charge our gadgets and devices, potentially putting an end to the fear of missing that important call due to a flat battery.
Despite the excitement, Chris Weber, executive vice president for sales and marketing at electronics company Nokia, who are also taking part in the study, says people shouldn’t get too carried away just yet at the prospect of using lightning to charge our batteries when they get low.
“We obviously aren’t recommending people try this experiment at home,” he said.