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Charge Your Phone With a Cup of Hot Coffee

Recognized around the world for tackling every day problems in order to improve people’s lives, Ann Makosinksi is an 18 year old inventor and self-described struggling university student with a self-taught interest in science. One one her latest inventions, the eDrink, allows you to charge your phone while chatting over a cup of hot coffee. Her invention has attracted worldwide attention by showing that big ideas can come from very every day materials and things.

The eDrink takes the form of what appears to be a regular stainless steel coffee mug. But by adding hot coffee and a cord to plug a USB into the base your coffee, you can instantaneously charge you phone. Makosinski explains that the idea for this invention came to her while watching her girlfriends’ phones die on them while out socializing with friends. She acknowledges that the amount of charge from the hot coffee isn’t a lot, but certainly enough to fire off that text.

The eDrink utilizes simple thermoelectric materials to convert wasted heat from hot drinks to produce electricity. A USB-port can be accessed to charge portable electronic devices. The device can provide a maximum boost of 0.36 Wh, which can extend an iPhone’s battery life by 10 to 30 minutes.

Thermoelectrics  are of course nothing new. In 1821, Thomas Johann Seebeck discovered that a thermal gradient formed between two dissimilar conductors can produce electricity. Thermoelectric materials generate power directly from heat by converting temperature differences into electric voltage.

Makosinski’s eDrink prototype looks like a regular stainless steel mug, but inside the base are thermoelectric plates called Peltier tiles. When the mug is filled with a hot beverage, the drink heats one side of the tiles while the tabletop and metal base cool the other side, thus producing electricity, Makosinski explains.

For this invention, she has so far won a $50,000 grant from Shell for her resolution to ‘reduce the impact on the electrical grid by patenting body-heat-generated power.’ She has also been honored by Time Magazine as one of their ‘Top 30 Under 30’ and starred on America’s ‘Tonight Show’ with Jimmy Fallo, who spotted her invention. You can watch her appearance here.

So what’s next for this innovative young inventor? “What I hope to happen next is to get the eDrink into production with all the R & D and everything figured out, and just keep creating,” she says.

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