“Welcome to the future” announces corporate website of AC Energy. Of course, to actually reach the future, AC Energy will naturally require your investment, today.
What will you be investing in you ask? Only the most revolutionary invention since Edison’s day: a cell phone that never needs to be recharged! Doesn’t that sound great?
… shut up, of course it does.
So how does it work? Well, according to the convenient “how it works” section of the website, there’s this one battery, and when it runs out, a second battery takes over, while in the meantime, a innovative “electro-mechanical component”/”internal generator”/”mechanical charging system” works its magic and recharges the first battery again. It’s all through the magic of “kinetic phase energy transfer.” Hmmmm… if your skeptic Spidey-senses are tingling by now, you’re not alone.
Conspicuously absent from the website is any mention of their system being patented or even patent pending, which is usually the very first thing tech companies seeking investors advertise. The U.S. Patent Office, notably, does not accept patent applications for perpetual motion machines, which is exactly what this sounds like on first blush.
I suspect, however, this is not quite what’s going on here. For any good 2nd Law of Thermodynamics enthusiast, the obvious question is where the heck the energy to power the “internal generator” that recharges the batteries comes from. Whatever the source, it has to be considerably more energy than is ultimately produced and stored in the batteries themselves (since that process is inherently inefficient). So this energy can’t ultimately come from either of the batteries. The energy thus must come from a source external to the phone: no combination of batteries (or even other battery-like options, such as springs) and magical generators inside the phone could store enough energy inside that tiny casing to keep it charged indefinitely.
If this device actually works at all, all the hints about “mechanical” and “kinetic” energy can only mean one of two things. Either you are going to have to physically wind your phone like a jack-in-the-box or you’re gonna… have ta… shake it!
While some devices already on the market, like this emergency flashlight, already employ kinetic energy from shaking to charge batteries, they generally require large, heavy magnets moving through a long, hollow enclosure full of copper coils to produce only a relatively modest amount of power. For a much smaller and (hopefully!) lighter cellphone to generate enough power to recharge your average cell battery… well, let’s just say that I’m a skeptic. Capturing kinetic vibrational energy may pan out for some applications, but to power your average cell, just bumping around in your pocket isn’t going to cut it.
Worse, if this is in fact a shake-a-phone system, and this company is really going to try to bring this thing to market, chances are that it’s going to go the way of Nokia’s N-Gage cellphone/gaming system, which briefly introduced the world to the comical fad called sidetalkin’ before being laughed out of existence.