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Powertrekk intros portable fuel cell charger, instant power

updated 04:30 am EST, Mon February 14, 2011

Instant power for charging over USB

Powertrekk, a fuel cell technology company based in Stockholm Sweden, has created the world's first portable fuel cell-based instant charging solution for devices over USB. Based on technology similar to that used in hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars, the device uses water to create hydrogen, which is then converted into electricity. A video demonstration of how effective and user friendly the device is has been embedded below.

The Powertrekk doubles as a portable battery pack and fuel cell. The portable battery pack can be operated on its own as a ready source of power or storage buffer for the fuel cell. The fuel cell enables instant charging from a depleted battery state without ever needing a wall charge, which is a boon for outdoor users in particular who may be away from the power grid for extended periods.

Users simply insert a fuel pack and add water. To charge portable devices - for example mobile phones, cameras and GPS devices - users connect a device to Power Trekk via a USB port.

Fuel cell power is generated immediately and charging is not impacted by weather or the position of the sun, as for solar panels. Compared to battery powered travel chargers, PowerTrekk offers reliable charging as the fuel packs do not deplete as batteries do.

Powertrekk is lightweight and creates power in a simple to use and environmentally friendly way - the only by-product of the safely controlled chemical process is a small amount of water vapor.

It is compatible with a wide range of devices. Pricing and availability is to be announced.



Powertrekk - How it works from Strip Digital on Vimeo.




By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. nostrademas

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2006

    +1

    Fine, but not environmentally friendly at all

    The article is fine until it uses the words "environmentally friendly" towards the end. There is nothing environmentally friendly about the large footprint involved in manufacturing the sodium silicide for the fuel packs, nor the fact that they are disposable when spent with no reuse or recycling channel in place so both the sodium silicate and plastic/metal containing unit become landfill.

    At least electronista resisted the urge to use the wildly misleading expression "powered by water" which has been seen in other coverage of this process.

  1. facebook_Pete

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Feb 2011

    0

    Environmentally friendly

    @nostrademus Being this technology and development is at a early stage, the "power pucks" refills will become available soon so this is environmentally friendly that it doesnt harm the environment like batteries do.

  1. nostrademas

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2006

    +3

    Re Environmentally friendly

    @ facebook_Pete

    Actually, the tech is not early stage at all. SiGNa Chemistry that makes the fuel for PowerTrekk has been doing this for years. The only thing that is new is the consumer packaging for mobile devices. And they've probably waited until things like the recent agreement on standardising mobile phone charging to bring it to market.

    SiGNa's sodium silicide powder that provides the energy is supposedly now in a stable enough form that won't react with the oxygen in the air (ordinarily it would burn if exposed), but there is no way they are going to have user-refillable power packs with this chemical. So unfortunately unless they create a recycle route (e.g. via mail-back) the used power packs just go in the garbage and you go buy some new ones. Rechargeable batteries are a much better solution than that, particularly lithium ones which are highly recyclable after the many years of use you get from them.

    Like I said, I have nothing against mobile power, just it has to avoid pretending to be environmentally friendly when it isn't. Even the methanol-based fuel cells that Toshiba was showing years ago would be better than these, they'd just need to create the packaged format for generic devices rather than the laptop battery pack they had then.

  1. legacyb4

    Mac Elite

    Joined: May 2001

    +7

    Solar Power

    I'd still like to see more efficient solar-chargers developed with a buy-once, use-many model rather than a constantly replaced power solution.

  1. diglife

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2011

    +2

    Glorified battery...

    Look at the technical specs. It has a 1600 mAh Li-ion battery "buffer" and the fuel cell is only rated at 1000 mAh.

  1. facebook_Michael

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Feb 2011

    +1

    Looks good, but how much power is produced?

    Looks good, but how much power is produced?

    Being green is great, but is this practical when compared to batteries?

    It would be good to compared it to a battery back specs. Does the powerpack fuel puck last 5 minutes? 5 hours? 5 days?

    Show me the specs! ;)

  1. JeffHarris

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 1999

    0

    Good Potential

    Apparently, it's Recycleable. That's what their specs say.

    I'd be curious...
    How many charges you get from it.
    How long it takes to charge/recharge.
    Is it capable of recharging DSLR class lithium batteries.

    Certainly, it might be good for multi-day hikes and wilderness trips where recharging is crucial.

    This could be a reasonable alternative to expensive solar panels, low-light situations and night time recharging. Or carrying a slew of rechargeable batteries and cycling through them all until they're all dead.

  1. Pixelsmack

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2010

    +1

    Requires powers packs, means it's useless.

    Anything that can't self sustaining is useless. When I'm living in my burned out house all The Book of Eli style I need solar! Not like I can walk in to the store and buy new power packs. I don't think Tom Waits is going to have them stocked either.

  1. Makosuke

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001

    +2

    Correction

    "Based on technology similar to that used in hydrogen-powered fuel cell cars, the device uses water to provide create hydrogen, which is then converted into electricity."

    No, it doesn't. The water you add is either for hydration of the PEM fuel cell (they don't work well dry) or to kick in the reaction that releases hydrogen from the fuel canisters ("PowerPukk"--I like the name). It has nothing to do with the actual generation of electricity.

    It's cool to see a commercial product, but until the fuel canisters are refillable it's probably worse from an environmental standpoint than better battery technologies. Certainly, when you consider how many of the PowerPukks you'd need to carry around to recharge the thing repeatedly, you'd be better off with a pocket full of NiMH or NiZn batteries that you recharged at home--probably lighter, definitely smaller, and certainly more environmentally friendly compared to recycling the canisters.

    People always talk about fuel cells like they're magic and produce power from water. No, they do not--they convert a stored chemical energy source into power. You need to make the energy somewhere--ideally, through electrolysis of water using a renewable energy source like wind or solar, in which case the process is indeed zero-net-output, albeit not all that efficient. But it can just as well be generated from chemical reformation of natural gas or electrolyzed using high-sulphur coal.

    (For reference, I work at a lab that had some of the first real-world, nontechnical-end-user demonstrations of PEM fuel cells in the US, so I'm not just making stuff up here. I've programmed the control systems for devices that do exactly what this does on a larger scale.)

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