New Yorkers who take lunch at Bryant Park may have noticed a curious solar-powered contraption hanging around – one that charges cell phones! Designed by Brooklynite Tommy Mitchell, the renewable energy gadget has been powering up people’s phones thanks to an 85-watt solar panel. Eight phones can charge at each solar-powered station in the park at no cost to the user, or to the environment.

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Mitchell hatched the idea for the solar powered charging station when visiting Occupy Wall Street protestors who spent days camped out at Zuccotti Park. Since they had no other power source, they remotely charged their cell phones using a hot dog vendor’s generator. Combining his inspiration from the protestors and his interest in renewable energy, he began devising a plan to develop public cell phone charging stations using only renewable energy. His small company, Green Barrel Energy, has been testing their charger on-site at Bryant Park.

Without any directions, Mitchell created his prototype using parts ordered from, and built the small solar powered charging station from the ground up. The 85-watt solar panel siphons energy from the sun and feeds a giant battery, which can store enough energy to charge cell phones for a week of cloudy weather.

Although mobile charging stations have sprouted up in train stations and airports, Mitchell was dismayed that they charge the user for the time spent charging. His prototype would be free for cell phone users, and would instead charge a nominal fee for the parks and public spaces which they occupy.

Mitchell has reached out to the Bryant Park Corporation, and is currently in talks with vice president Jerome Barth about permanently locating a prototype charger at the park.

+ Green Barrel Energy

Via NY Times

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