Start-up builds compact solar charger with spherical lens and tracking system

A German architect wants to raise enough money through a crowdfunding campaign to bring the Beta.ey charger onto the market. The charger uses a tracking system and a spherical lens to focus the sunlight for greater efficiency.

According to the German architect André Broessel, convex lenses, like Fresnel lenses, are good methods for concentrating diffuse sunlight on a small surface of highly efficient solar cells. His start-up RawLemon is currently experimenting with large crystal balls filled with water. Together with a two-axis tracking system to track the path of the sun, the efficiency would be significantly higher than normal solar panels. For example, his concentrators have already achieved an efficiency of 43 percent when using so-called multi-junction solar cells.

In an effort to draw more attention to the technology used, Broessel has built a scaled-down version of his setup that can serve as a charger for mobile phones or tablets. The solar charger, called Beta.ey, contains a convex polyacrylate lens and an efficient 1x1cm solar cell. A compact tracking system is also built in, as well as a 27.5Wh battery. A device can be charged via a USB 2.0 connection.

The maker claims that the Beta.ey generates enough power to fully charge an average smartphone 1.5 times a day. When the solar charger is not used in the dark, it can be used as an LED lamp for mood lighting. Broessel hopes to raise enough money through Indiegogo to be able to market the Beta.ey and continue with its solar cell technology. A Beta.ey solar charger should cost $149.