This cool new gadget offers a good alternative to solar panels, back up batteries and fuel cells as a source of portable power. With Blue Freedom, all you need is running water, and you can charge up all of your devices. Its small enough to fit in a rucksack, too.

With the ever growing search for green energy, and a new market for portable power, this gadget has potential. It transforms the energy from running water into electricity, which can be used to charge up your phone and other devices – or can even be used as a viable power source of you live off-grid.

“The world’s smallest hydropower plant”

What makes this gadget especially good for portable power is the fact that it is “the world’s smallest hydropower plant”, and is also extremely lightweight. It easily fits into a backpack, allowing you to easily take it on your travels.

Developed in Germany, the Blue Freedom charging kit consists of a 7-in (12-cm-) diameter micro turbine, a 5W generator and a 5,000 mAh lithium-polymer internal battery. All you need to do is find some running water, put the turbine in the stream – and you’re done. The base station stays on dry land and has all of the charging ports, including 2 USB Ports. Thanks to the built in battery, you can store the power you generate for later use. There’s even a built in LED torch to help you see at night.

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While solar panels may appear to be a better solution for portable power, hydropower is actually one of the most efficient ways to generate electricity – transforming up to 90% of the water’s energy into electricity (solar panels can only get 15%), which compensates for the fact that you can’t generate power on the move, as you could with solar panels.

Obviously the amount of electricity you can generate depends on the strength and speed of the current of the water. Faster running water means more electricity. For example, if the water is moving at a constant 3mph, you could charge an iPhone 6 in roughly an hour, which is pretty good.

Of course, Blue Freedom isn’t the perfect portable power choice for any situation – you need running water – so taking this on a trek across the desert wouldn’t be much use.

Another good use for this gadget is to power homes which are off of the electricity grid. Providing you have access to good running water, Blue Freedom could easily give you enough power to power your devices and lights.

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It’s worth pointing out that Blue Freedom is only a prototype, but it’s on Kickstarter to help get it into mass production. The cheapest kits start at $179, but unfortunately these have all sold out. You can still get the $219 version, though. The campaign is already at 80%, so if all goes well deliveries will begin in October.

All in all, Blue Freedom looks like a good way to charge up your devices without hurting the environment. While this isn’t as portable as solar panels (and more expensive), Blue Freedom makes up for this with excellent efficiency, allowing you to get more power out of the water. Depending on your circumstances and what trips you are planning to take, Blue Freedom could be the perfect gadget to take on your next camping trip. Just make sure there’s running water!