LAS VEGAS: You’re on the road, far from any outlet and your precious cell-phone is thisclose to running out of juice. You look around and the nearest thing to you is a dirt road and—wait, what’s that? A little babbling brook. You’re saved! No, not because you can get a cool drink, but because now you can recharge your smartphone. You can, that is, if you have myFC’s new PowerTrekk portable, water-powered fuel-cell charger -- and if it works as advertised. It's making its debut here at CES 2012.
Fuel-cell technology uses the chemical reaction between the hydrogen in water and special electrodes and electrolytes in fuel cells to generate electricity. What’s better is that fuel cells never deplete — as long as you have hydrogen gas produced by water to flow through them, they can deliver an endless supply of cheap electricity. The energy technology has been around for years and numerous companies have tried to commercialize it, even promising shipping products within weeks, months or years. So far, however, none of us are carrying around a pack of fuel cells and a bottle of water, confident we’ll enjoy a full charge on all our devices for a day or more. Sweden’s myFC may change that with PowerTrekk.
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Developed in Stockholm, the friendly-looking green and black device is only a little larger than a couple of iPhones stacked on top of each other. It comes with two USB ports (micro and standard), a fuel-cell assembly that appears to comprise a half or two-thirds of the device and a chamber for the fuel-cell pucks.
Like most other fuel cells, PowerTrekk works by converting hydrogen gas into electricity. The charger uses neither fans nor pumps to move the water, about a table-spoon’s-worth and, according to myFC, only produces some vapor gas as it generates fresh electricity. It can then deliver electricity directly to your phone or other USB-powered devices. The green lid, which includes its own rechargeable battery and can be charged with the fuel cells or via a traditional USB-based charging cable, pops off so you can leave the pucks and fuel-cell system behind.
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One of the big hold-ups for delivering fuel-cell technologies to consumers has been concerns over the safety of the necessary hydrogen fuel. myFC notes that the recyclable PowerPukk’s are made of materials that prevent corrosion and more importantly, leakage. Plus, safety concerns have been easing in recent years as airlines like Delta actually publish rules and restrictions for the use and transport of fuel cells (on its "Restricted & Dangerous Items" page), which actually allow fuel cell cartridges on flights as long as they’re transported in carry-on bags.
PowerTrekk will list for $299 when it goes on sale in the U.S. A three-pack of PowerPukk’s will run you $12. Seems like a small price-to-pay for unlimited portable energy. Now let’s see if it makes it to market.
Are you anxious to start using alternative energy sources for your gadgets or are you worried about the safety of hydrogen-powered devices? Tell us more in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.