LAS VEGAS--During a demo of the PowerTrekk fuel cell smartphone recharger, the liquid reservoir sprang open, splashing me with water. No big deal. It was just water. It could have been worse.
The Powertrekk system uses sodium silicide cartridges from SiGNa Chemistry, whose execs I met with here, plus the water-based liquid of your choice (tap water, pond water, even urine) to make hydrogen, which the Powertrekk runs through a fuel cell to generate electricity. One cartridge will charge up an iPhone about one and a half times, I'm told, with charging taking an hour or so.
The system isn't for everyone. It's $200 plus about $4 a cartridge. Wisely, it will be sold at outdoor outfitters like REI. The pitch is that if you need reliable recharging for your mobile device, like a GPS receiver or radio, the Powertrekk will ultimately be less expensive and more reliable than battery-based rechargers or solar systems. … Read more