Its no secret that there's a lot of potential for hydrogen fuel cells as an alternative energy source, but using them to charge up your iPhone? That's just crazy talk, right? I used to think so, but after stumbling upon the PowerTrekk booth at CES 2012 I happily stand corrected.
The PowerTrekk system is primarily meant for emergency situations and folks who love spending time in the great outdoors, away from civilization and electricity. I'm not going to get too deep into the specifics here, but I'll do my best to give you quick breakdown of how it works.
First you pop off the green cover and pour in roughly one tablespoon of water. Then you toss in what's known as a PowerPukk. The water is injected into the PowerPukk which starts a reaction creating the all-important hydrogen. The hydrogen then rises to meet a special membrane in the green cover, reacts with the outside air and instantly creates electricity. That electricity is then sent directly to your mobile device - smartphone, GPS, digital camera, etc. -- via USB or transferred to the PowerTrekk's on-board lithium battery where its stored for later use.
The PowerPukks are one time use and each use only provides enough power to charge a smartphone or the lithium battery one time. However, the PowerTrekk can be charged via a standard power outlet so its ready to go without having to go through the whole process. Inserting a PowerPukk is only necessary if the on-board battery is out of juice.
While the PowerTrekk won't have any trouble charging up an iPhone or GPS, things like laptops and tablets are out of the question. As of right now the system simply doesn't have the capacity to power up those more powerful electronics, creating only the equivalent of about 6 AA batteries during a single cycle.
One of the main questions CES attendees surrounding the PowerTrekk booth had was whether or not they would be able to take the device and the non-toxic PowerPukks on a plane. After all, what good would it be if you couldn't travel with it? Thankfully, the answer is yes, but from what I gathered only 3 will be allowed to fly at once.
The PowerTrekk will be available in U.S. through Industrial Revolution, Inc. beginning in May of 2012 and the starting price will be set at $229. PowerPukks will need to be purchased separately and come 3-packs that will cost anywhere from $10 to $12. You can find all the details over at PowerTrekk.com.