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Researchers use lightning to charge Nokia smartphone

Cliff Saran

While Mary Shelley wrote in 1818 of Victor Frankenstein using lightning to create a monster, now modern-day researchers have managed to use lightning to charge a mobile phone.

Scientists from the University of Southampton  have collaborated with Nokia to harness the power of lightning for personal use.
The collaboration has led to a proof of concept demo showing how people could tap one of nature¹s significant energy sources to charge their smartphones when the battery runs out.

nokia925-lighning.jpg

Scientist Neil Palmer of the university¹s Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory looked into how lightening could be used to a charge a Nokia Lumia 925.

In the experiment, Palmer did not use real lightning. Instead he simulated an energy source similar to that of a bolt of lightning. “We were excited by this challenge presented to us by Nokia," he said.

"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,² said Palmer. The experiment showed that the phone could be charged.

“This discovery proves devices can be charged by a current that passes through the air, and is a huge step towards understanding a natural power like lightning and harnessing its energy,” Palmer added.

“We obviously aren¹t recommending people try this experiment at home, but we are always looking to disrupt and push the boundaries of technology and find innovative ways to improve the performance of our products,” said Chris Weber, executive vice-president for sales and marketing at Nokia.


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