Power your phone with fire -

One of humanities' oldest discoveries might help power one of its newest.

When Neanderthals literally set the world on fire, they would not have considered that their invention would be helping mobile phone users with flat batteries.

A team of Japanese scientists has come up with a new way to charge your mobile phone after a natural disaster or in the great outdoors.

The Hatsuden-Nabe thermo-electric cookpot turns heat from boiling water into electricity that feeds via a USB port into digital devices such as smartphones, music players and global positioning systems.

According to AP,  the idea of powering your mobile using a fire came from boffins in TES NewEnergy, based in the western city of Osaka.

They are selling it for 24,150 yen, or $280, which is the price of a hamburger in Tokyo.

The plan is to market it in developing countries with dodgy power.

Chief executive Kazuhiro Fujita said the invention was inspired by Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

He said that when he saw TV footage of the quake victims making a fire to keep themselves warm, he also had the notion of helping them to charge their mobile phones at the same time.

Of course the fact that mobile phone masts would also be without power and therefore also down did not matter much. At least modern Neanderthals will have a charged phone even if they can't call someone.

The charging pot features strips of ceramic thermoelectric material that generates electricity between the 550 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the pot and the water boiling inside at 100 degrees.

It takes three to five hours to charge an iPhone and you can heat up your lunch at the same time.