Researchers at University of Southampton have started a project to power a mobile phone by using a bolt of lightning, offering consumers a sustainable approach to charge their devices using one of nature's major energy sources.
Carried out in collaboration with Nokia, the proof-of-concept experiment used a transformer to recreate lightning bolt in the high voltage lab by passing 200,000v across a 30cm air gap.
University's Tony Davies High Voltage Laboratory scientist Neil Palmer said that challenge was presented to the university by Nokia.
"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," Palmer said.
"The signal was then stepped into a second controlling transformer, allowing us to charge the phone.
"This discovery proves devices can be charged with a current that passes through the air, and is a huge step towards understanding a natural power like lightning and harnessing its energy."
Nokia Sales & Marketing executive vice president Chris Weber said that this is a first for any mobile phone company to trial this kind of technology.
"We obviously aren't 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," Weber said.
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