Steam Powered Smart Phone




Introduction: Steam Powered Smart Phone

About: After being laid off in 2009, I got rid of my car to save money. The difficult transition from a car to a bicycle led me to start Solarcycle and design USB chargers that keep smart phones alive.

This project is based on my Graduate Research Project for a liquid nitrogen thermoelectric generator motor control system. I later modified it to use the temperature differential between steam and air to power a smart phone. A video is provided showing the device in action and attached are the part drawings. The following is a quote from my Master's Project report:

"The idea of using the Seebeck effect to generate electricity to power electrical devices dates back to NASA’s 1989 “Galileo” mission to Jupiter where sunlight is dim and solar power is weak in deep space. The Galileo spacecraft uses two generators to provide power for its systems, which work by using radioactive material called a radioisotope as a heat source. This heat source is placed in the center of a large aluminum cylinder casing and then thermoelectric devices are placed around the outside of the cylinder casing covering the surface of the tube. The heat flow from the inside of the structure to the outside of the structure passes through the thermoelectric units and generates 235 Watts per generator for a total of 470 Watts for 71,000 hours."

1) Cryogenic Electric Generator (The 8 peltier units are tied in series and are secured between the aluminum pieces with thermal grease on both sides, 8 springs, 4 threaded rods, 8 nuts, and 8 washers)

2) USB Cigarette Lighter Adapter

3) Rubber exhaust hose

4) Wires with alligator clips

5) Small Pressure Cooker

*WARNING: Hot steam is dangerous and can cause burns. Take proper precaution.

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Step 1: Assemble the Generator and Turn on the Steam!

Fill the small pressure cooker half way with water. Close the lid, and attach the rubber hose to the spout on the lid and in to the hole at the top of the thermoelectric generator. Attach the positive lead of the generator to the positive lead on the USB cigarette lighter adapter and attach the negative lead of the generator to the negative lead on the USB cigarette lighter adapter. Boil the water in the pressure cooker and when the light on the USB adapter begins to glow, plug in your smart phone and start charging!

Step 2: Design Improvements

Due to time and cost constraints, the cavity inside was just a simple drill through. A more efficient design would be to hallow out the inside of the block to make a chamber for the steam to cool with a drain valve at the bottom. With just the drill through, the steam shoots out too fast and doesn't get enough time to release the heat of the steam. Also, the cavity reduces th mass of the block, which allows it to reach up to temperature faster.

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    2 Discussions

    Olav AlexanderM
    Olav AlexanderM

    4 years ago

    maybe you could put two peltier elements on it too, to capture some of the heat energy?


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Very interesting, is it possible to give some more info on the material used for the thermoelectric devices?