Gallery: GREEN CELL Universal Battery Sold in Vending Machines


Ever wished you could do away with all those annoying cell phone chargers that are cluttering up your space? Have you ever taken to cursing cell phone manufacturers for their extremely wasteful and inconvenient policies to manufacturer different types of batteries and chargers for every make and model of phone known to man? (We certainly have). Well here’s a design that promises an eco-friendly end to the hassles of multiple batteries and chargers – by offering up a single standardized battery that can fit in every type of personal electronic device. The Green Cell battery is safe, environmentally friendly, made without toxic chemicals, and — here’s the best part — when it runs out of juice on the go, it can easily be exchanged for a freshly charged battery at a local vendor machine.

Green Cell, our third place winner of the Greener Gadgets Competition, is a standout for both its universal format appeal as well as its upping the ante on the usual vending machine offerings. Designed by Theo Richardson with Charles Brill & Alex Williams of RBW, this power-packed green design promises to eliminate the glut and landfill waste of proprietary batteries, plugs, adaptors, and rechargers that are currently required to power mobile electronic devices. The Green Cell cuts the clutter down to one universal battery and one universal home charging system. And the notion of users being able to charge and swap batteries in vending machines when one is on the go really does seem like an easy, eco-friendly way to offer an alternative at the pocket-change level. Like ZipCar for batteries, fully-charged and ready to go never sounded greener!

Green Cell is designed to fit into every electronic device on the market allowing you to finally eliminate your random collection of archaic chargers and A-to-Z batteries. The idea of working within a standardized format is one giant step forward when it comes to reducing landfill waste and endless upgrades. Granted this would entail a whole new marketing strategy for some electronics companies, but we feel that the market is ready for a shift in how folks do business, i.e. with both their users and the environment in mind. If Green Cell can be as accessible and as energizing as a nice cold CoCa Cola or a packet of M&M’s, just think where we are headed in terms of universal happiness and the greening of our needs and desires?

+ Green Cell by Theo Richardson with Charles Brill & Alex Williams of RBW
+ Green Cell on Core 77
+ Greener Gadgets Conference


or your inhabitat account below


  1. techschool November 11, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    where are these sites that recycle hybrid batteries you talk about them but you do not post where you can drop them off or if a junkyard or auto parts recyler can take them and recycle them for you… Whats the deal? Or if there worth any money to make sure they get recyled

  2. EcoGeekRu February 16, 2009 at 9:16 pm

    There is nothing revolutionary in an idea, that standartization is very convinient to customers and makes things cheaper, greener etc.
    The problem is – how to make the manufacturers follow these standards.

  3. Inhabitat » POWER... September 17, 2008 at 5:30 am

    […] Technologies recently revealed working units of the 24-7 Power Pack, the world’s first portable fuel cell charger. The pint-sized powerhouse uses “liquid borohydride technology” to give an ipod […]

  4. GREEN CELL Aims To Put ... March 7, 2008 at 2:17 pm

    […] Via: Inhabitat […]

  5. JJJ March 7, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    The idea is flawed. Here’s why:
    1. a new standard like this will only benefit electronics built in the future.
    2. a retro-fit casing/converter could be built but many device could still not support it, plus you have to custom build all those retro-fit casings too.
    3. All those vending machines taking up resources and energy.
    4.Looks like these batteries would be most likely be Li-ion which have low charge cycle before losing their ability. Most li-ion batteries can no hold a decent charge beyond 300 charges, after 500 they’re useless.
    5. And the most important reason, we already have it!!! Read below…

    Low Self Discharge (LSD) NiMH AA batteries are here TODAY. It truely is a revolutionary product. Normal NiMH lose their charge very quickly, that’s why I’ve never really been a fan of them and have always kept some normal alkaline batteries in stock. But that has all changed now. These new LSD NiMH batteries can now retain 85% of their charge if left unused a year later and can go through 1000 charge cycles. They also work with existing battery chargers. These (and also AAA) batteries should become the new standard. Some manufacturers are Sanyo (Eneloop) and GP (Recyko). I’m sue in a year they’ll be breaking the 3000mah barrier for these AA batteries.

    Instead of spending energy and resources promoting this concept you could make a HUGE environmental impact by promoting the education and use of these new LSD NiMH batteries. The general public is unaware of this break through.

  6. Classicsat March 4, 2008 at 2:30 pm

    I see the point of a universal battery and charger/accessory format, from the perspective of a user or an aftermarket accessory vendor, and the possible business and convenience viability of “selling” such batteries in a vending machine (although $10/charge/$35 deposit is a bit high), in the green-ness it that one can carry battery/charger/accessories from phone to phone.

    From a Green perspective, I still don’t see the big picture, the same, or slightly smaller, net amount of goods will be manufactured (either OEM or aftermarket), and that environmental savings may be offset by the losses incurred by the vending machine, or even normal over the counter sales (which have lower environmental impact than a vending machine, I am guessing).

  7. Michelle March 3, 2008 at 11:43 pm


    Thank you for elaborating.


  8. odo February 29, 2008 at 2:13 pm

    Sony recently created a similar concept, their ODO line of products. Currently it is just a concept, let’s hope they can hit the market for everyone to enjoy!

  9. Michael February 29, 2008 at 2:37 am

    I was discussing with a colleague a series of new water powered digital desk clocks, and we came to the conclusion that rather than requiring that people go out an buy yet another clock, wouldn’t it be better to create a battery charger/battery pack with the same sort of renewable recharge capability, but with universal application. That way you could plug it into your existing battery powered alarmclock…..

    Considering mobile technology, this battery goes half of the way there, except for the fact that you use it and exchange it – what about the embodied energy in the constant manufacture and distribution of batteries, plus the specialised vending machines.

    The universality of a battery size (as with AA, AAA, etc before now) is a perfect re-engineering of the technology, but why not look for ways to work more effectively and sustainably with existing technology, rather than requiring yet another shift and round of replacement….. that’s where the idea of the PV satchels – charge as you go, or a similar desk based technology for at home/work, would have a far more impressive potential application.

  10. Jill Fehrenbacher February 29, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Hi Michelle, Oakling & Scheepers-

    You make some valid points, and the issues you raise make it clear that the full concept of this systems design idea is evidently not coming across to readers. Either we are not explaining it very well in this post, or readers aren’t bothering to read the full post to try to understand what this is about. Let me try to correct some of these inaccurate assumptions about the project:

    This product doesn not exist now, and the idea is not that this would exist alongside proprietary batteries, but that this universal system would totally replace the system of proprietary batteries – cutting down on the need to produce and consume countless tons of different size and shape batteries. Using this system you would ONLY ever need ONE BATTERY and ONE CHARGER – for ALL YOUR DEVICES.

    You wouldn’t need to go to a vending machine every time your battery dies, because you would have the universal charger at home. But if your battery died when you were in a public place and you needed a quick fix, you could simply swap at a vending machine.

    3. Purchase of a new battery is $10 – it doesn’t cost $10 every time you want to SWAP a battery

    Hopefully with these considerations in mind, the environmental value of this proposed project is more apparent now. The main environmental impact is on the manufacturing, consumption and disposable side of things: many fewer batteries and chargers would have to be mass produced (saving a ton of energy and materials) if there was one singular universal system for rechargeable, long-life batteries. Everyone would just need 1-2 batteries at any given time at the most, and people would need to dispose of old batteries and chargers far less frequently.

    Hope that helps shed some light. Finally, please remember this was for a conceptual design contest. This is not a real product right now and there would have to be significant government, tax and policy changes for a system like this ever to take off in the U.S.


  11. Michelle February 29, 2008 at 12:41 am

    Is there something I’m missing here?

    Aside from the obvious question: “Why would a consumer pay $10 to REPLACE a battery on a continual basis?” I’d like to know what you all were seeing as the benefit of such a product in regard to the environment and/or the green movement? The energy savings of forgoing the charging of a mobile phone for an hour or two each night is hardly enough to substantiate the gas used either in public transit or in your own personal vehicle…not to mention the amount of electricity required to keep a vending machine operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, nor how much energy is required to manufacture the “green” batteries, ship them, replace them as needed in the vending machines, etc. Why not just use the battery supplied by the mobile phone manufacturer? Why clutter up the world with more product?

    I’m surprised this wasn’t considered by inhabitat prior to posting.

    No disrespect, I typically enjoy what I find posted here, but this one really has me perplexed.

    Nashville, TN

  12. oakling February 27, 2008 at 5:54 pm

    I’d love to have this for when my batteries die, but yeah – I don’t want to do it instead of recharging them every night!

  13. scheepers de bruin February 27, 2008 at 4:48 pm

    Great idea! Just not sure it’s so great to fork out 10 dallah each time your battery runs down…

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home