A tougher, greener battery could power phones in Africa

One of the problems facing developing countries is that people in rural communities tend to walk around with dead cell phones. That is because mobile devices are cheaper than ever, but power plants are still expensive. But as a work-around in off-the-grid communities, phone owners have learned to run charge cords off of used car batteries. Now, Fenix International, a San Francisco-based design firm, may have a better solution for these communities: a new ruggedized battery and generator system called ReadySet, LiveScience reports. The device, its designers believe, could put more electricity in off-the-grid homes, create jobs, reduce indoor air pollution by replacing kerosene lanterns with LEDs, and eliminate car battery acid leaks. Plus, the telecom industry is hooked on it. Network carriers can make 10 to 14 percent more money from users who can keep their phones charged, and an estimated 500 million cell phone users worldwide live off the grid, according to a report from the mobile communications group GSMA…

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