PowerTrekk, a Portable Fuel Cell iPhone Charger

| Macworld/iWorld Expo

PowerTrekk Fuel Cell ChargerImage via myFC

SAN FRANCISCO - Swedish firm myFC was showing the company's new PowerTrekk fuel cell charger that allows users to charge an iPhone or other portable device without access to an electric socket, or even the sun. You will, however, need a tablespoon of water. 

At Macworld/iWorld, the company demonstrated the product for us, quipping that they were in the hydrogen liberation business. OK, that's way nerdy, but it's darn funny. Better yet, it's true.

By adding roughly a tablespoon of water and a fresh myFC PowerTrekk puck, the device becomes a fuel cell that separates hydrogen and oxygen from the water you added, generating 5 volts of power at 1 amp for four hours.


PowerTrekk — The Puck on One Side, Water on the Other
Photograph by Sphynge Photography for The Mac Observer

That's enough to charge an iPhone, but the PowerTrekk also sports a built-in lithium-ion battery that continues to collect the electricity generated, enough for a second charge for your iPhone.

In other words, you can use this device to charge your iPhone out in the wilderness or in the middle of a hurricane, and all you need is a little water and a fresh cannister. Each cannister will effectively produce enough power for two charges. Users get three cannisters with their PowerTrekk, and additional cannisters are available at three for US$10.

PowerTrekk Puck

The myFC PowerTrekk Puck
Photograph by Sphynge Photography for TMO

That makes it very impractical for charging your device(s) all the time—this isn't a replacement for your wall socket—but for those planning on hiking, camping, sailing, or preparing for a natural disaster, the value of instant-power may be priceless.

PowerTrekk will ship at the beginning of March and will first be available at REI in the States. In addition to selling the device and the pucks, REI will also take your used pucks and return them to myFC where they will be refilled with the reagent that generates the juice.

PowerTrekk will retail for approximately $229, but REI will sell them at an introductory price of $199.

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If you have to store the power “Puck”, what’s the difference from storing an extra battery for an external battery pack charger?

I’m guessing shelf life. How long does a “Puck” keep vs. how long does a lithium-ion battery hold a charge?

Advantage over solar is just, as you mentioned, that this is instantaneously available rather than requiring that the sun is out. But solar’s advantage is that you don’t need to stock pile power pucks.

Furthermore, this is mostly planning for a disaster where the power is out but cell phone towers are on.  You probably are not worried about your iOS games during a disaster. There’d be no internet, so Maps and Weather would be useless.  You might have a couple handy utilities on there (calculator, Theodelite, etc.), but basically you really care about the cell phone part.

A survivalist’s communication equipment is an AM/FM radio with spare batteries (are there solar powered ones?), a HAM radio, and flares.

Maybe you’re just worried about the power grid being down in your neighborhood at night time when you come home from work and notice your phone is almost dead. Then the cell towers work but no solar.  In that case, I’d use my car charger because my car is a gas-powered generator.

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