If Hurricane Sandy taught us anything, it’s that there’s no substitute for personal preparation when it comes to natural disasters. As extreme weather becomes the norm, power outages are expected to increase, putting homes and families at risk. Staying connected to the outside world, through phone, radio and internet, is key to staying safe in a disaster situation, but it’s almost impossible when electricity isn’t flowing.
Solar chargers and hand crank power outlets can suffice for a few hours, but what about when outages last longer than that? California-based tech company MetAir recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for a mobile power source it says will provide more than 20 full charges to your iPhone 5, more than 5 full charges to your iPad 3, and provide LED room lights six hours a night for up to 12 nights in a row.
So how does MetAir pack all that off-grid charging power into a device that would fit into a backpack with ease? Inside the four-pound gadget is a disposable zinc-air battery power cartridge. Unlike most common disposable and rechargeable batteries used today, zinc-air batteries are powered by exposing zinc metal powder and electrolyte, to oxygen from the air to generate electricity. This allows for the equivalent of 115 D cell batteries without the toxic mercury, cadmium, lead or lithium.
Because it’s free from health-threatening chemicals and metals, the MetAir Solstice can be used, discarded, and easily replaced much like the ink toner cartridge in your printer. Zinc-air batteries also offer a long stable shelf life of up to 5 years, and an extremely low self-discharge rate of less than 5 percent per year (sealed).