July 27, 2007 10:18 AM PDT

Hydrogen power on the go

Hydrogen power on the go
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A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

Think of it as a briefcase for electricity.

Houston-based Trulite is developing a portable hydrogen-powered generator, the KH4. Pour water into the unit, and it will crank out 150 watts of power, and 200 watts at its peak. While that won't run your house, it's enough to recharge power tools or a laptop or run a small appliance, according to company CEO John Goodshall.

A target audience for the device will be contractors, particularly ones who work on downtown skyscrapers. Power tools regularly sap their batteries. (That's why Powergenix and other start-ups are trying to market new types of batteries for them.)

To get around the problem, contractors either carry spare batteries, which can be expensive, or recharge them with gas generators. The fumes and noise of the gas generators, however, are often incompatible with downtown building requirements. Thus, Trulite hopes that contractors will opt to carry its unit instead.

And for those people who bring a generator to a campsite to watch TV? A portable hydrogen generator will eliminate the noise.

The active ingredient in the fuel cell is sodium borohydride. The material splits water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then pushed through a membrane that extracts electrons. The sodium borohydride also stores hydrogen safely. Others are also working on similar solid storage systems for hydrogen.

"We control the flow of hydrogen," Goodshall said.

Once the fuel of the future, hydrogen now gets regularly panned by critics as being expensive and impractical. Advocates, however, say it could become an important green fuel when batteries or solar electricity aren't practical.


Hydrogen may be a niche, but its advocates aren't giving up. Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, for instance, is promoting hydrogen fuel cells as a way to power boats on Swiss lakes.

Others have speculated that offshore platforms--decades from now--could harvest wave and tidal energy, turn it into hydrogen, and then ship it to shore. Offshore hydrogen would be used in those situations where it is impractical to connect a distant ocean platform to the grid. Toyota and Daimler-Chrysler continue to research hydrogen cars.

Trulite will release beta units soon, and the company hopes to start selling the KH4 in the second quarter of next year. The unit will cost about $2,000, which is far more expensive than a gas generator. A more powerful gas generator can be bought for $300.

Trulite's chairman is John Berger, a former Enron executive who is also behind Standard Renewable Energy, which sells energy-efficiency services and biodiesel.

Correction: This story incorrectly identified the active chemical in Trulite's hydrogen generator. It is sodium borohydride.

See more CNET content tagged:
hydrogen, generator, contractor, fuel cell, battery


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Add your comment
it's a start
as longs as they push their research further, depending on how sucessfully they market their product...
Posted by dondarko (261 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's a Joke
It's more expensive, puts out less power, is an unproven technology and runs on something not at the local gas-station...

In other words it is a joke and will never be profitable...
Posted by SiXiam (69 comments )
Link Flag
Hydrogen in fuel cells
I am so sick of Hydrogen being linked to fuel cell development!!! If you want to hasten the development of Hydrogen as a fuel then don't wait on fuel cell development. All of todays internal combustion engines will run on Hydrogen. Diesels are the easiest to convert. However gas engines can also be modified to run on Hydrogen easily.
I don't know why it has not been done on a larger scale. The following problems do exist. Hydrogen is much harder to store on board, ( much heavier gage tank, as liquid Hydrogen only exist under very cold conditions and on earth under high pressure). Much poorer gas mileage. (the 27,000 or so BTUS supplied by Carbon in gasoline, is missing). It is possible to run todays cars on Hydrogen.
Posted by chief6309 (5 comments )
Link Flag
Detailed response on my CNET blog
I started to write a short comment here, but realized it needed
more detail than would be appropriate in a comment, so I made
this product the subject of my blog today:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://blogs.cnet.com/8301-13512_1-9751562-23.html" target="_newWindow">http://blogs.cnet.com/8301-13512_1-9751562-23.html</a>

. png

Check out my CNET blog! <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://speedsnfeeds.com" target="_newWindow">http://speedsnfeeds.com</a>
Posted by Peter Glaskowsky (87 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Thank you Peter...
The original article was flawed. Michael Kanellos said we would
"pour water into the unit". Nope. That's not how it works.
Michael also said "The material splits water molecules into
hydrogen and oxygen". Nope. That's not how it works either.
Peter your blog is far more accurate.
Michael you need to pay closer attention or take better notes.
Though I suppose it's possible, I doubt a rep for Trulite would
make those serious errors in explaining how their product works.
Posted by rockstarstatus (70 comments )
Link Flag
Power Generator
If someone is looking for an inexpensive way to gererate power tools on the job or anything else for that matter, try looking into zinc power generators. I heard of them a few months back, manufactured by a company that has a stock ticker symbol of PWAC. Name is Power Air Corp. I haven't personally looked into it, but zinc is pretty accessable to operate a generator.
Posted by retcsgt (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How long will this thing run a 15W Zonbu Mini-PC?
Wow, this may be just what I'm looking for.

I've been testing the Zonbu Mini-PC as a potential desktop replacement, and it works surprisingly well and better yet only sips 15W of power. Talk about green.

More details on the Zonbu on my blog:

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://mrzonbu.wordpress.com" target="_newWindow">http://mrzonbu.wordpress.com</a>

-Mr. Zonbu
Posted by mrzonbu (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
If you can push Hydrogen Molly Q's thru a membrane and suck out the electrons, what voltage do they come out at? Is it AC or DC? Couldn't you just use the filter on plain water and suck the electrons out of that?

Your explanations are great. They just leave me teeming with ideas. Thanks a lot.
Posted by JJ_Wilde (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Buy a whole bunch to power a car
Easy to do this.......

The fact remains the man who did make the hydrogen powered car in the 1980's was killed.

I am sure his patents are still valid and can be freely used. I refuse to pay for water when it is free!
Posted by inachu (963 comments )
Reply Link Flag

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