How Febot Works

What if you could recharge your dead batteries with the wind? See more green science pictures.

When battery manufacturers started mass producing rechargeable versions of the once exclusively disposable power sources, it was hailed as a green achievement. And while the ability to recharge is a huge improvement over just throwing out all those handy AAs (which most people still do), the charging process isn't particularly green, since most chargers have to plug in to a wall outlet. Recharging all those green batteries uses dirty grid power.

A recent invention, just a concept right now, turns recharging into a clean-power operation. Febot (no word on what the name means), designed by Ji-yun Kim, Soon-young Yang and Hwan-ju Jeon of South Korea, uses wind power to rejuice AA batteries.

Wind is becoming an increasingly common method of generating cleaner energy. The United States expanded its wind-power capacity by 50 percent in 2008, and global capacity jumped by nearly 30 percent [source: Davidson]. Wind has significant benefits as an "alternative" energy source. It's typically more efficient than solar, and it doesn't require huge tracts of cropland like ethanol.

A wind turbine does with wind what a hydro turbine does with water: It converts the energy of motion in wind into electrical energy we can use to power our home appliances and gadgets.

The Febot wind-powered recharger uses the same basic power-generating method as those massive turbines in grid-connected wind farms. It simply shrinks the machinery -- considerably. It's a slim, torpedo-looking gadget, about 5 inches (13 centimeters) long, with a propeller that captures wind energy. Inside the body of the device, a AA battery then captures the electricity generated by the turbine's mechanics.

In this article, we'll find out how the Febot wind-powered battery charger works, how it's operated, and what pros and cons it brings to the table. We'll begin with a look inside.