Dead phones are a problem that just won’t go away. Mobile technology is advancing faster than battery technology can keep up, and our phones are dying faster than ever. Sure, external batteries exist, but what happens when those die, especially for those who are away from power sources for extended periods of time? There are solar chargers, but that relies, quite obviously, on there being sunlight. In my best infomercial voice, I exclaim, “There’s got to be a better way!” Meet the Powertrekk, the charging solution that’s unlike any that have come before it.

This is because the Powertrekk comes with a fuel cell that can be used to power USB devices. Fuel cells work by converting by a fuel’s chemical energy, from a source such as hydrogen, into electricity through reactions with elements like oxygen. So, for those who paid attention in chemistry, what’s a common liquid source of oxygen that could be added to a hydrogen fuel cell in order to be converted into electricity? Water! Yes, by simply adding water to the Powertrekk’s fuel cell puck, it can be used to charge a device over USB. The Powertrekk also comes with a 1500 mAh internal battery that can be charged over USB, or through the internal fuel cell. The fuel cell itself has a storage capacity of 4 watt-hours, which means that at its maximum output of 5 volts, it has a total 8000 mAh capacity, using Amperage X Voltage = Wattage. In layman’s terms, that’s about enough to charge the iPhone completely about 4 times, assuming maximum battery efficiency. Also, the 5 volt output means that the iPad cannot be charged with the Powertrekk.

Now, the Powertrekk is not an inexpensive solution; the charger is expected to sell for US$229 when it is released, and 3 extra fuel cell pucks will cost $12. Still, this could be a useful accessory for those who spend a lot of time away from electrical sources, find solar chargers inefficient, and/or want an environmentally-conscious way to charge their USB devices. The Powertrekk will go on sale in the spring, available from both the Powertrekk website and worldwide through a variety of distributors.

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