Designers introduce DIY coffee-based batteries at the 2010 Vienna Design Week.
The Nespresso Capsules encourage coffee drinkers to view a throw-away byproduct of their daily routine as a new source of energy. Mischer and Traxler are thinking creatively about a product that millions of people interact with daily to derive a potentially untapped renewable energy source.
Mischer and Traxler's experimental and conceptual designs often focus on ecological themes, encouraging the user or onlooker to ask "why and what for?" Rather than developing commercial products, their work tends towards single pieces and exhibitions that give a sense of the vision or system behind their concepts.
These coffee based batteries are made from old Nespresso aluminum capsules, strips of copper, salt water and used coffee grounds. Arranged into sets of 6, each grouping can power a clock and the entire installation provides enough power to run a small radio.
The entire installation is made up of about 700 Nespresso capsules, representing the average anneal consumption of a single coffee drinker. Mischer and Traxler, envision take back programs at Nespresso in order to get customers to return their capsules to be recycled for further use.
This concept promotes a DIY approach to creating a second life for materials and products that would otherwise be thrown away. Unfortunately the capsules themselves pose a problem of wasted material but these batteries highlight the inherent value in the aluminum. Mischer & Traxler talked about their invention in Dezeen:
"The installation ‘Nespresso-Battery’ demonstrates the energy in Nespresso Capsules. Invisible Energy becomes visual via ticking sweep hands and thus shows the importance of collecting and recycling the valuable material aluminum."
A combination of a soil and salt water battery, the aluminum functions as the anode, the copper as cathode and the salt water as electrolyte. Due to a chemical reactions a small, but usable, amount of energy is created. Each battery produces about 1,5 – 1,7 Volts of potential and enough power to run a electro – mechanical Quartz clockwork.