UK firm launches fuel-cell based phone charger

UK fuel cell specialist Intelligent Energy has launched a portable consumer device designed to charge electronic devices like smart phones and cameras.

The product, known as UPP, uses replaceable and refillable hydrogen-filled cartridges to supply a fuel cell which combines the hydrogen with air to produce electricity, and water vapour as a by-product.

According to the firm the system can be used to charge any USB compatible device and is able to deliver one week’s worth of charge to even the most power-hungry smartphone.

The device has initially been launched in Africa following successful consumer trials with African telecomms company Etisalat Nigeria. The technology is thought to be particularly attractive to the African market, where electrification remains an issue in many poor and and rural areas.

WIth a recent Intelligent Energy survey revealing that more than 70 per cent of mobile device users find themselves with a dead or nearly-dead battery at least once per week, the firm is also set explore other markets. And global distribution of the device is set to begin in 2014.

According to a company spokesperson, the wholesale cost of the technology is around $199, but it’s likely that it will be sold via telecomms operators as part of a package with a monthly cost of about $10. An app that works alongside the device will enable users to monitor the amount of fuel they have left and locate the nearest supplier of replacement cartridges.

‘Upp…represents a new category of energy device,’ said Henri Winand, CEO of Intelligent Energy. ‘With the growing demand for portable devices, mobile and cloud services, consumers want the energy independence to keep their devices connected and powered-up all the time.’