Machine uses plastic bottles to pay for cell phone charging

It always feels like your phone runs out of battery at the worst possible time, right when there’s no place to plug it in.

But some young inventors have found a solution using plastic bottles.

James Rogers from Kentucky is explaining a new machine he and his class built last semester, where dropping in a plastic bottle is payment for 15 minutes of phone charging time.

“Place it down the slot in the machine and it’s going to trigger power to all 32 of these USB ports across the front,” said Rogers. “Just about every backpack you see at school has some kind of water bottle in it.”

Joe Stuecker leads the energy management class.

“I hate that we don’t recycle and then they said, ‘Well, we hate dead cellphones,’ and I said, ‘Well, why don’t we use those together?'” said Stuecker.

Stuecker will be the first to tell you this isn’t your typical class project.

“No one has done anything like this before,” said Stuecker. “What really gets me excited is the applications that this could be used for.”

The machine uses less energy to charge than a normal outlet and the savings get bigger as more phones are plugged in.

“Each time we plug a phone in, it doesn’t double,” said Rogers. “It goes up a small percentage each time.”

What started as group problems turned into a solution, and Stuecker is proud of his students.

“For them to be able to see it now and get credit for the work that they’ve done, it’s huge,” said Stuecker.

Right now the class is reaching out to businesses about ways to use the machine.


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