The Hydrogen-powered future of gadgets is finally here with PowerTrekk, the first consumer hydrogen fuel cell. It promises to juice-up your gadgets simply with the power of water and H2, instantly, anywhere, any time. Too good to be true, or the best thing since USB?
A portable charger for anything with a USB cable, powered by a hybrid battery and hydrogen fuel cell system.
Outdoors-types who like to take their gadgets with them into the wilderness.
Dressed in luminous green and black, it looks more like something out of a game or a sci-fi flick than a phone charger. Apart from the eye-catching colour scheme, it's functional and pretty sturdy, which is good considering this thing is going to be thrown in a backpack on your travels.
It's pretty straightforward. Charge the internal battery using microUSB for instant power. If the battery's flat, or you need more juice, pour a little water in the tiny reservoir, pop a puck in the other end, and clamp down the fuel cell on top. Within about a minute it'll be generating electricity, which can either charge the internal battery or anything hooked up to the USB port by pressing the power-out button. Simple, really.
How does the fuel cell work? Well, basically, it uses the chemical energy locked up in water to generate electricity to power-up your gadgets. The pucks contain a chemical called sodium silicide, which reacts with water to generate pure hydrogen gas. The hydrogen then passes up into the fuel cell mounted above, reacting with oxygen from the air to make water again, pumping ions across two electrodes and generating electricity in the process.
The pucks are needed because hydrogen gas is highly flammable in its pure form, so it's impractical to ship it as a compressed gas or liquid for something this small. You don't want a gas-filled bomb strapped to your back do you?
Instant power without the need for a plug socket or battery anywhere, anytime, with just water and a puck for a power source.
Unfortunately, as this is a chemical reaction happening here, the PowerTrekk needs to be kept upright with the vents clear when the fuel cell is active. That means you can't just fire this thing up and sling it in your bag while it charges your phone. Of course you can just use the built-in lithium-ion battery to do that, just not the hydrogen fuel cell. It's a compromise.
When running it emits a pretty pungent smell, which is fine if you're using this in the great outdoors, but it stinks up a room and made me a little light headed at one point indoors.
- It's not too heavy, and it's about the size of five thin smartphones piled on top of each other, so it's not going to take up too much room in your bag.
- It uses both the internal battery and the fuel cell combined to pump out the 2.5W normally demanded by your phone, so if the internal battery is flat you have to wait for that to charge a bit.
- Because there's a chemical reaction going on here, that can't actually be stopped automatically, you kind of feel nervous with this thing running. It'll buzz loudly if you need to do something, like eject the puck, but I couldn't help but keep an eye on it at all times. It's probably not an issue if you're using it outdoors like you're meant to though.
- One puck will give you about two charges of your phone (or a complete charge of the internal battery), and a three-pack of the suckers will run you about £10-odd.
If you're the kind of person who always carries a backup battery in your bag while just journeying about a city, probably not. This isn't designed as a battery backup like the myriad of USB-attached rechargeable batteries you can buy these days. But if you're an outdoorsy-type that heads off into the wilderness, gadgets in hand, and you need instant power anywhere, then yes. Is it cheap, no? It is one the first commercially available hydrogen fuel cells, though, which means you'll be on the bleeding edge, and everyone knows you pay a premium to be ahead of the masses.
Battery: 1500 mAh
Power Per Puck: 4 Wh
Weight: 33 g
Dimensions: 127x66.5x45 mm