Nils Ferber loves the great outdoors. But when he ventured on longer treks, his smartphone ran low on power and portable battery packs could only take him that far. Frustrated with the lack of portable solutions to generate electricity in remote regions, Ferber thought of ways — beyond relying on solar panels — to generate his own.
"I contacted a number of mountaineers, climbers, film-makers, and expedition leaders and asked them questions about their experiences, requirements and typical weather conditions. All of my contacts told me that they are usually using solar panels. But being entirely dependent on sunshine is a huge problem for them, sometimes putting them out of work for several days," Ferber wrote on the James Dyson Award site.
To that end, Ferber, a design student at École Cantonale d'Art Lausanne, dreamt up his own micro wind turbine, a device which weighs just under 1kg and sports wind-catching blades attached to a telescopic shaft. The lightweight invention folds down elegantly to the size of an umbrella. It charges devices directly via a built-in USB port or stores electricity in an integrated battery pack with a capacity of 24 Wh. The current design produces an output of 5 Watts at a windspeed of 18 km/h.