All of us make use of batteries in our gadgets and appliances but there has been no big breakthrough in their technology for the last several decades. If the life of these batteries remains the same, there is no need to despair as a Canadian teenager has found a way to lessen our dependence upon these batteries. Billions of small batteries are used and thrown by people around the world every year. But if the flashlight made by Ann Makosinski is any indication, the day is not far off when we will require lesser and lesser numbers of these batteries.
The prototype flashlight built by this Canadian teenager is one of the finalists in Google’s Science Fair this year. She calls it Hollow Flashlight, and it is a gadget that gets energy from human body to start throwing light. She says that she was inspired to create this device by the idea that human beings are walking light devices. She has only tried to harness human energy to replace batteries in a flashlight. Ann bought a few Petier tiles from eBay that she used to make her Hollow Flashlight. These tiles are known for their ability to produce electricity when one of their sides is heated while the other remains cool.
Ann worked patiently with these tiles and finally found a way to mount a few of them on a n aluminum tube that she somehow managed to insert into a PVC pipe. She cut the PVC pipe at a few points so as to heat the tiles with the touch of hands while the other side remained cool with air current in the atmosphere. This produced electricity that could power the flashlight for more than 20 minutes. Ann had to spend around $26 to make the prototype of this flashlight. However, she is confident that is this device is mass produced on a commercial scale, it could be made in much less.
Thousands of applicants have sent their projects to Google to be included in the Science fair and Ann’s flashlight is one of the 15 that have been selected for the finals. The theme given by Google to the participants this year was ‘It’s your turn to change the world’. All 15 finalists have won an opportunity to go to Google’s headquarters at Mountain View to present their products for a final round after which the winner will be announced.
According to Google’s spokesperson Shannon Newberry, the judges will look closely at the prototypes to give points on creativity, research, and of course the design of the product. The final is going to be held in September this year. The winner not only gets a 10 days vacation to Galapagos islands, he or she also gets a top prize of $50000.
Petier tiles work on temperature difference, and so the flashlight that utilizes LED bulb goes on for longer if the outside temperature is very low to make for a differential in temperature.