For a long time now, we have been espousing the benefits of rechargeable batteries for most every type of household or business use. Rechargeable batteries are longer lasting, less polluting and more cost-effective than their disposable counterparts.
Yet, rechargeable batteries are not entirely without drawbacks. They cost more up-front, and the chargers themselves are also expensive. While it may be no big deal to misplace a 99-cent alkaline, the costs are much higher for the absent-minded rechargeable user. More importantly, rechargeable batteries are no good without the chargers, and nobody wants another piece of electronic equipment to add to their menagerie.
The best inventions are those that solve obvious problems, and the British company Moixa Energy’s new USBCELL batteries are no exception. Their solution to the charging dilemma is simple: The battery is the charger. The USBCELL AA battery uses NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) technology to create a rechargeable battery with a twist. It has a detachable cap at the end of its positive terminal. Removing the cap reveals a USB connection that can be plugged in and charged in any standard USB port.
Instead of shelling out the money for a battery charger, consumers can use the existing ports on their laptops or desktops, video games, and increasingly, televisions and monitors to power up their batteries. While the USBCELL charges fully in about five hours, a half-hour blast will buy you hours of extra life. They are rated to last for 500 charges, so the price tag ($17-20 per pair, with no charger needed) seems modest compared to even the cheapest disposable alkaline.
Closing the Loop
In terms of environmental impact, these NiMH batteries do not contain cadmium, which is toxic to humans and wildlife. Also, as their website explains, each USBCELL battery can save 7 kilograms (kg) of CO2 and 3kg of toxic waste, when you factor in the production and disposal of the batteries they replace. The numbers may not seem significant, until you begin to multiply them by the billions of batteries we purchase each year. Best of all, the USBCELL batteries are recyclable, and can be returned to Moixa for recycling, free of charge.
Moixa is also planning to release AAA, C, D and 9V batteries, as well as lines for cameras, PDAs and other portable devices. While they are only available online right now, they will be arriving in stores in the U.S. soon. You can also go on Moixa’s site to sign up to receive email alerts for when these products are available. You can even enter in the model number of your phone for a customized alert.
Since the devices we use constantly need power to run, environmentally safe and recyclable battery options are a welcome advance. The fact that Moixa has added a new level of convenience to rechargeable batteries only tips the scales further in favor of their widespread use, and that’s good news for all of us.