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PowerCube pop-up solar generator provides relief to disaster-struck areas


July 1, 2014

PowerCube is deployed as a shipping container and morphs into a power stations, communications base and water treatment plant with the push of a button

PowerCube is deployed as a shipping container and morphs into a power stations, communications base and water treatment plant with the push of a button

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It was seven years ago that Ecosphere Technologies revealed its first iteration of a self-contained relief unit for disaster-struck areas. The company has since been busy refining the system's form and function and has now announced the completion of what it says to be the world's largest deployable solar power generator. Capable of generating 15 kW of electricity, PowerCube is transported as a standard shipping container and can morph into a solar-powered shelter, water treatment plant and communications base, all with a push of a button.

Like other disaster relief units, such as the QuickHab and Apparatus X

, PowerCube was inspired by what was widely perceived as an inadequate response to 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Though disaster relief was the main motivation for its development, Ecosphere is also touting the potential of the PowerCube in applications such as military and humanitarian aid.

Available in three sizes, the pop-up power station can be transported by truck, train, boat or plane and installed anywhere with enough space to accommodate a 10-, 20- or 30-ft standard ISO shipping container. Once deployed, it uses a patented drawer system whereby hydraulic actuators and roller assemblies slide the photovoltaic solar arrays out beyond the container walls, significantly expanding the power capacity of unit.

This electricity is then used to power onboard systems for internet, satellites and also wireless connectivity up to a range of 30 miles (48 km). Excess power can be directed toward external use, such as hospitals and schools. The first mode reportedly uses onboard atmospheric generators that draw water from the air, meaning PowerCube is able to produce water without a source, regardless of its location.

The company says it is ready to commence demonstrating the PowerCube and will begin seeking out strategic partners across different industries to find real-world applications.

Source: Ecosphere Technologies

About the Author
Nick Lavars Nick was born outside of Melbourne, Australia, with a general curiosity that has drawn him to some distant (and very cold) places. Somewhere between enduring a winter in the Canadian Rockies and trekking through Chilean Patagonia, he graduated from university and pursued a career in journalism. Having worked for publications such as The Santiago Times and The Conversation, he now writes for Gizmag from Melbourne, excited by tech and all forms of innovation, the city's bizarre weather and curried egg sandwiches. All articles by Nick Lavars

15 kilowatt hour = 20.115 331 626 horsepower hour so for inefficiency lets make it a 30HP spark ignition engine and generator, 4 000 liter = 4 cubic meter of gasoline. (This is one application where pure ethanol might be the better fuel less energy but it can be stored for years in a sealed container without degradation.) We can add a absorption refrigerator that is powered by the engines waste heat to at the very least enough to keep perishable medicine cold. and still have space in the container for a large plastic bag anaerobic digestion tank and associated fittings to produce more fuel on site (and safely contain and treat human waste.) and even a biomass gasifier also to produce fuel onsite as well. then we can use the waste heat from cooling the syngas/producers gas and refrigerator to sterilize water. and of course any additional space/weight can be filled with dry beans and rice. I will bet it costs less than the solar plant as well.


I think it is a great idea. I think it would be even better if some of Slowburn's ideas were incorporated into future version of it.

I think they could have used it after hurricane sandy and after the earthquake in Haiti.


I suggested something very much like it, when discussing shelters for displaced people, (those white domed structures that nest and sit on flat bases. Also showcased here on gizmag.)


Slowburn - yeah, but any engine requires fuel supply - the idea here is you don't need a supply line for this cube to operate. Use your (presumed) limited transport systems to bring in other needed supplies (like food or meds) and let the sun supply power (at least during the day...no mention of electric storage options for night)

Bruce Horwitz
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