Water-powered fuel-cell hits store shelves in April

Keeping gadgets charged and ready can be a constant struggle. We’re not always withing cord-shot of an electrical outlet, and even when we are, there’s the nagging knowledge that most of that electricity comes from relatively dirty sources.

Solar or kinetic chargers are viable alternatives, but both have caveats: sun or the ability to jump around like a cricket. Both are hard to manage at the office.

Back in 2011, EarthTechling reported on a third alternative that’s more conducive to city dwellers in need of on-demand off-grid charging: the PowerTrekk hydrogen fuel cell charger powered by SiGNa. After two years of anticipation, Powertrekk recently announced that the water-powered fuel cell should be available to the public in April 2013.

Billed as “the world’s first portable fuel cell charger for consumer use that runs on ordinary water” the PowerTrekk has the ability to provide instant power, whether you’re camping or just trying to get across town for a meeting. The internal lithium ion battery can be operated on its own as a ready source of power or storage buffer for the fuel cell. Of course, it’s not quite as simple as “just add water.”

As CNET reports, “To use the PowerTrekk, you also have to purchase a $4 PowerTrekk Pukk. Once you add a small amount of water (about half a shot), and add a one-time-use Pukk, the latter will immediately begin separating the hydrogen from the water, using it as fuel to charge your handset.” Each Pukk will produces 2.5 watts at 5 volts, which is good for about one full iPhone charge.

While it’s still incredibly convenient, the Pukk’s necessity means that the PowerTrekk fuel cell will hardly be waste-free. Coupled with a $229 price tag, this design limitation could be hard for conscious consumers to justify. Still, if you’re looking for quickly generated, reliable off-grid power, it could be worth a look.

* Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling