Two MSE Alums Demonstrate the Practical Side of Thermoelectrics

American Ceramic Society Bulletin, Vol. 91, No. 5)

Power PotSome clever thermoelectric cooking and camping tools developed by Power Practical, a Utah-based start-up, may have campers rethinking what they pack next time they hit the woods.

One of Power Practical’s innovations is called the PowerPot, which can apparently do double-duty as a cooking pot and portable energy source for charging and powering USB devices. The PowerPot devices operate using thermoelectric units that have been built into each pot.

To be clear, Power Practical isn’t claiming to be using the cutting-edge thermoelectrics, such as those recently about in the Bulletin. Instead, the company is being smart and using commercially available electronics.

As noted in a news release from the company, “all the PowerPot needs to generate is heat and water.”

Two sizes of PowerPots are available: a 5-watt model and a larger 10-watt unit. Each comes with a fireproof standard USB port. A 15-watt model is in the works. The company also offers a set of connecting LED lights.

How the company got PowerPots off the ground is an interesting story by itself. The business was started by two University of Utah materials science engineering students, David Toledo (B.S., ’10) and Paul Slusser (B.S./M.S. ’09), who “launched” the products on April 4 by posting a proposal on Kickstarter, the crowdsourcing fundraising site (www.kickstarter.com). They originally hoped to raise only $50,00 in pledged investments or sales in 30 days, but in fact gained more than $126,000 in advanced pledges, one of the most successful ventures proposed on Kickstarter