Hydrogen fuel cells have the potential to replace batteries completely and offer a clean alternative power source for portable devices. Unfortunately development of the technology has been slow and no examples have yet been released onto the market.
Geek.com reports that Intelligent Energy might be the first company to actually bring a fuel cell product to the people. It has released the Upp fuel cell charging system, and plans to offer the product in Africa, where access to reliable energy is a privilege available to very few. The product will be showcased at Africa Com 2013 being held in Cape Town.
The Upp weighs just 620 grams and runs on hydrogen fuel cartridges. The hydrogen in the cartridge combines with oxygen in the air to produce electricity and water vapour. Intelligent Energy say that the device is able to produce 5 watts, the power at which modern chargers operate at, and that each cartridge holds 25Wh, capable of five complete smartphone battery charges before it needs replacing.
The Upp is able to charge devices as fast as a mains connection and provides instant power on the go. Amar Samra, Managing Director of Consumer Electronics at Intelligent Energy, explained that “this year, we have carried out successful consumer field deployments in the region and are now in the process of expanding and recruiting further mobile partners worldwide. We believe Upp is a real game changer for Africa.
Batteries need help: their capabilities haven’t kept pace with innovation in smart connected portable devices. Given that 75 percent of the global population relies on the mobile phone to stay connected, the more you want to do with your device, the more energy you need. Consumers need a reliable source of personal and portable energy, and Upp gives you that critical uptime when you really need it.”
The company plans to join up with mobile phone networks for organising the distribution and sale of the Upp, with the eventual plan to the cartridges sold by any retailer. At $199 dollars (price is still unknown for the individual cartridges) the Upp is not cheap, but Intelligent Energy suggests that it could be much cheaper if the customer agrees to sign a contract for the regular supply of fuel cartridges, much like how smartphones are sold at different prices depending on the length of contract bought.
Upp is a long way from the fuel cells that have been dreamt of, but it is a start, and hopefully now that one product has made it to market many other will follow, pushing the advancement of the technology.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
James Burgess studied Business Management at the University of Nottingham. He has worked in property development, chartered surveying, marketing, law, and accounts. He has also…