Saturday, 21 January 2012

Portable fuel cells to charge phones on-the-go

With scores of advanced devices entering markets at every now and then, the battery life of these portable devices appear to be a major concern. Battery life is more of a reason of worry for frequent travellers, especially when one needs to find the AC mains port to charge the device while on-the-go. We’ve earlier seen a slew of solar power-based phones, which come with limitations. Portable fuel cells have also been considered as a good option, but developing a low cost and small size handset using this technology seems difficult. Pioneers like Jadoo have tried achieving this, but weren’t quite successful. Fuel cells rely on hydrogen storage, which further adds to complexities has been touted as one of the key hindrance at building products using the technology. Samsung has also planned to bring out smartphones with prolonged battery life.
portable fuel cells for charging
Portable fuel cells for charging

Signa Chemistry now shows a way of using powder sodium silicide and water to generate hydrogen on the go, reports Extreme Tech. The hydrogen is mixed with air in the fuel cell itself, which combines to create water and electricity. Signa’s fuel produces hydrogen, which can then be utilized in large models from Jadoo as well as small handheld versions from MyFC, a Swedish company. The handheld model will enter U.S markerts this Spring dubbed PowerTrekk, crafted for portable recharging. It outputs up to 4 watts and capable of charging a smartphone. REI will make available PowerTrek and fuel ‘pucks’ will be sold in packages. Each Powerpukk has a power capacity that is equivalent to 6 AA batteries.

These powerpukks come at the same price, but have higher power than alkaline cells. Signa claims that its fuel cell based power supply are more cost effective rechargeable lithium batteries compared to rechargeable lithium batteries when used with the briefcase size DPS300. 

The PowerTrekk offers color choice from red, yellow and green and is said to be a practical alternative to rechargeable batteries. The DPS300 has been ordered by organizations like USAID for vaccination clinics in remote areas. The PowerTrekk base unit is available from REI at a price of $199 (approx Rs.9,994), while fuel pucks will be made available in packages of three for $12.

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