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CES: Tiny Fuel Cell is Supposed to Charge a Cell Phone for Two Weeks (Video)

Roblimo posted about a year ago | from the maybe-a-whole-bunch-of-these-could-power-your-house dept.

Power 204

Many of us have plug-in external batteries of one sort to recharge our smart phones when we're away from power outlets. Or we have gigantic aftermarket batteries that make our phones so fat they barely fit in our pockets. So there is this company, Lilliputian Power Systems, that is just starting to market a tiny, butane-powered fuel cell they call the Nectar that plugs into your cell phone (or whatever) through a USB port and supposedly charges it for up to two weeks. That's a lot better than an add-on battery. It looks expensive, although the power "pods" aren't too pricey at $19.99 for two. But wait a minute: Why aren't fuel cells, not internal combustion engines, the "range extenders" in plug-in hybrid cars? A decade back, fuel cells were going to revolutionize our power delivery and consumption systems. A cell phone charger is cute, but is that really all we can get fuel cells to do?

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204 comments

Small print (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42899805)

*Only applicable to phones powered by Atom Chip [atomchip.com].

Re:Small print (4, Informative)

Phasma Felis (582975) | about a year ago | (#42900289)

The actual small print: $19.99 is for the power cells. The charger that the cells and your phone plug in to doesn't even have a price listed yet, which probably means it costs hundreds. Oh, and it's also not available yet, and pre-orders are sold out.

Slashdot fact-checking fails again. Great job, guys!

Re:Small print (4, Informative)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#42901027)

And to answer the question in the article:

"Why aren't fuel cells, not internal combustion engines, the "range extenders" in plug-in hybrid cars?

It's because electric cars use a *lot* of power - this is the same reason electric cars don't come with solar panels on the roof so you never need to charge them - it takes a lot of energy to charge an electric car.

Since the power cells cost $20, they must contain more than fuel, they probably include some consumable electrodes or membranes.

The fuel cells are are rated to produce 55Wh (with 2.5W maximum draw).

A Nissan Leaf goes 73 miles on its 24KWh battery pack - so that's 328 Watt-Hours per mile.

It would take about 6 of these $20 power cells to power your car for one mile or $120 (though you may need 150 of these chargers in parallel to generate enough power).

Even if you assume a 90% drop in price when scaling this up to car size, that's still $12 per mile.

I've seen refrigerator-sized, $20,000 natural gas fuel cells for powering (and heating) your home, but if you're going to power your car from natural gas, why not just make it a hybrid that uses an natural gas powered engine instead of an electric car that has a bulky and expensive natural gas powered fuel cell?

Re:Small print (3, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#42901039)

nah, they are probably playing the "Razor Scam" [blogspot.com]. Sell you the main product for cheap, break-even, or even at-a-loss, then gouge you with the consumables it uses all the time, at a great markup. See also "printer ink cartridge scam" [zdnet.com].

So I'd expect the gadget itself to sell reasonable, but then these "pods" will go for $10 ea, and contain about a nickel's worth of hydrogen. And maybe a DRM chip to prevent you from refilling it.

A "solution good for the consumer" would be rechargeable pods, that you can simply fill to the line with water and then plug into the wall, where they split some water and generate some hydrogen to recharge themselves. (and either store the oxygen in the cell too, or maybe vent it outside, or pressurize some O2 cylinders you can sell back to your local airgas co?) Though they'd take awhile to recharge. I suppose it may generate O2 slowly enough to not be a hazard.

The only non-cheap part of the system is the membrane for the cell or the catalyst for the recharger.

Maybe I'm just being pessimistic about it. But I think the biggest challenge in fuel-cell technology right now is the big players in the market that will find serious new competition in fuel cells. Look at the rechargeable battery industry. When you threaten to dump a new product on the market with a much higher energy density and lower cost than the alternative they're offering, they tend to freak out. I haven't seen any public account of pressure and sabotage from those groups on fuel cell tech, but I'd expect it's happening, on a significant scale, even if out of the current public eye.

That reminds me, I recall reading a year or so ago that someone came up with a way to convert natural gas to H and 2O in the cell, and that made it powerable directly from natural gas. Imagine that, a computer that runs on a little cylinder like a 20gram CO2 from your pellet gun, full of natural gas. Fuel cells are cool. Wish we used them more.

Fuel Cells (1)

Vintowin (1476905) | about a year ago | (#42899807)

These would be great for all portable electronics!

Re:Fuel Cells (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42900181)

Only once somebody clones the fuel cartridges.

According to their site, a fuel pod is ~55 cubic centimeters. Brookstone wants $20 for two. A liquid fuel had better be nigh-indistinguishable from magic for $180/liter.

Re:Fuel Cells (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42900417)

If this is to be used in a fuel cell it likely has to be far more pure than the butane commonly sold for lighters. Else you foul the many hundred dollar cell and get to buy that all over again.

Re:Fuel Cells (2)

realilskater (76030) | about a year ago | (#42900427)

They claim the cartridge is not refillable to meet TSA regulations. Hah, give me a refillable one that I can squirt a canister of lighter/torch butane into and I might consider it.

Re:Fuel Cells (1)

countach (534280) | about a year ago | (#42900575)

Probably if this thing comes out, shortly after someone will figure out how to refill them themselves, or provide a way to buy the fuel so you can do it.

Isn't it about efficiency? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42899833)

chemical -> kinetic has less loss than
chemical -> electrical -> kinetic

I'm pretty sure that's how it works.

Re:Isn't it about efficiency? (2)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about a year ago | (#42899921)

no, your blanket statements are wrong. You don't give any indication of the conversion processes used. Combustion of chemicals for kinetic energy is a lot different from the fuel cell conversion of chemical energy to electric energy that is used for motion.

Re:Isn't it about efficiency? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42900383)

Most notably, for anything small enough to fit in a car, attempting a chemical -> kinetic conversion causes Carnot's vengeful ghost to flip you the bird. This can be a bit of a drag.

Re:Isn't it about efficiency? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year ago | (#42900361)

Maybe for some ideal chemicals but gasoline engines are very inefficient (just look at how much cooling they need...)

Because: Patents. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42899845)

We'll all eventually have cheap fuel cell chargers, but not for about another 20 years or so when the developers are sure they wont get patent-trolled for releasing a product.

Re:Because: Patents. (5, Insightful)

pieterh (196118) | about a year ago | (#42900479)

Yup. Don't know why your comment modded down. Whenever you see a promising area of technology stagnate and stop moving for 20 years, then pick up magically, it's patents.

Re:Because: Patents. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900785)

BULLSHIT MODERATION

Heh.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42899849)

Two weeks is a long time for charging a cell phone *rimshot*

Raspberry Pi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42899851)

Good power source for one that's going to be doing some automated junk out in the wild for a few days?

Scale matters (5, Interesting)

gurps_npc (621217) | about a year ago | (#42899875)

As to why you can't power a car with them, scale matters. Some electrical sources work great at providing a trickle charge over hours, but can't power a car, even if you put 1000 of them in sequence or serial.

Sometimes it's a heat issue, sometimes it's weight, sometimes its some other physics law.

Re:Scale matters (2)

P1h3r1e3d13 (1158845) | about a year ago | (#42899999)

In the case of cars, it was largely supply and logistics. Car fuel cells were supposed to be hydrogen-powered (not butane, like these) and there is very little infrastructure for generating and transporting large amounts of hydrogen. Storing it on board the car is also a tricky issue.

Re:Scale matters (4, Interesting)

Digital Pizza (855175) | about a year ago | (#42900219)

A few years ago I read of research being done by General Motors (I think) about using a gasoline-powered fuel cell, a process that although still using gasoline, would be far more efficient and clean compared to burning it, and of course there would be no problem refueling.

I wonder whatever happened to that project?

Re:Scale matters (2)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#42900345)

A gasoline powered fuel cell would still be very useful.

If it could do high amounts of energy, it would be useful as a generator replacement, and have the added bonus of being quiet. Heat could be used for heating water and air in the winter, or be vented away in the summer.

If it could produce only relatively small amounts of usable electrical output, it still would be very useful, even just to keep the starting battery topped off and maintained.

Re:Scale matters (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42900437)

Until you can find a way to do without platinum series metals you can forget about that.

As to refueling I have some very bad news for you, no fuel cell is going to run on pump gas. That stuff is far too contaminated for this use. Some of it is intentional like detergents others are just because it needs to be cheap.

Re:Scale matters (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about a year ago | (#42900991)

Too true. The weird thing is that platinum isn't really that uncommon a metal - outside of the Earth's gravity well. Most of the platinum (and gold) we mine today were delivered by relatively recent asteroid strike.

The reason heavy metals are valuable is that gravity tends to concentrate them in the center of a planet when it forms, not out on the edge.

Re:Scale matters (5, Insightful)

Lije Baley (88936) | about a year ago | (#42900539)

Studies show that Reality is a leading cause of failure in the development of promising technologies.

Re:Scale matters (2)

Binestar (28861) | about a year ago | (#42900641)

The project was/is worked on in my home town, although the person who owns the land they are leasing wanted to force them to sign a 10 year lease instead of a shorter lease has dropped their lease and they are leaving the area in first quarter 2013 to go back to Detroit. There were fuel cell cars driving here on test runs constantly, although since the announcement that has pretty much stopped. On the outside the cars looked like normal GM cars (Of course with nice "GM FUEL CELL CAR" decals branded on it)

http://media.gm.com/media/us/en/gm/photos.detail.html/content/Pages/galleries/us/en/facilities/honeoye_falls.html# [gm.com]
http://www.whec.com/news/stories/s2790586.shtml [whec.com]

Re:Scale matters (1)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about a year ago | (#42900829)

Likely reality didn't match theory.

Unless, I don't know, you think there's a reason why GM would develop a way of powering their cars that makes the rest of the auto industry look like carriage whip makers? A tech they could profit from enormously, license to other companies, probably get gov't-enforced green mandates to require its use even?

I mean, maybe I'm just one jaded bitter fucker, but I'm pretty sure GM would eat babies if it would make them money.

(there is no conspiracies anywhere burying game-changing engines, motors, or any components thereof. period.)

Re:Scale matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900015)

Sometimes it's cost.

These things have an output of 2.5 W, according to the specification. To power a 50-hp engine, you would need 15,000 of them.

Obviously, it's possible that increasing the power by a factor of 15,000 doesn't increase the cost by a factor of 15,000. But if it works by oxidation of the fuel on the surface of a special material, then it probably DOES increase the cost by a factor of 15,000, since 15,000 times as much material is needed.

Re:Scale matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900063)

I figure a car could easily run on ~2000 of these, for 1 hour. :^P

55 watt hours is great for small electronics. However, for a 100 kW (135 HP) car... not so good.

Re:Scale matters (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year ago | (#42900169)

1000 of them in sequence or serial.

sequence sounds identical to series, not to parallel. I know only two ways to wire stuff, (light bulbs, batteries, speakers, etc.) parallel or series.

Re:Scale matters (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#42900207)

I'm reminded of the EFOY methanol fuel cell. It won't give anywhere near the power of a 2000 watt Honda generator... but what it can do is quietly keep a set of RV batteries topped off at night when the solar charging system isn't working.

If someone is boondocking, having a way to keep the batteries charged is very important (especially at night when one runs the furnace with the 10Ah blower fan.) Yes, there is always firing up the generator, but even the quiet inverter models can be noisy, especially in a secluded wilderness area.

What fuel cells bring to the table is the ability to slowly charge items.

Another place this could be useful would be a house, where one outlet in various rooms would be a r15A circuit that is connected to a 2000 watt inverter and battery pack. Said batteries are charged by a fuel cell at night, and a 400-800 watt solar panel system in the day. This wouldn't save a lot of energy, but it would be a place to plug low, but constant current draw items like battery chargers and not have those run up the monthly bill.

Re:Scale matters (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#42900751)

You could probably solve part of that with ultracaps. Then the cell can run continually at cruising power, and the caps handle the acceleration peak. But even then, the shameful fact is that cars would need to get smaller, and small isn't marketable. People want a giant hulk of a car, even if it's just to do their daily commute, and unless gas prices get *much* higher that isn't going to change. Even here in Europe people have been spoilt by cheap fuel. Now they act as if it is their right to ignore how much it takes to fuel their status symbol.

that tash is out of this world (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42899911)

just wow! I want to buy it just to give him money for beard products.

Butane (4, Informative)

ravenscar (1662985) | about a year ago | (#42899941)

To answer the question of "Why aren't fuel cells, not internal combustion engines, the "range extenders" in plug-in hybrid cars?" posed in the TFS...

In this case, the fuel cell is powered by butane. Butane is not readily available, in pure form, in large, easily transferable quantities all over the world. Gasoline, however, is. I understand that butane itself isn't rare, but the ability to get a fair quantity of it safely into my vehicle in a few minutes is.

Re:Butane (1)

P1h3r1e3d13 (1158845) | about a year ago | (#42899973)

The fuel cells that were recently all the rage for cars were hydrogen fuel cells. Hydrogen has even worse supply and storage problems than butane.

Re:Butane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900199)

Hydrogen has even worse supply and storage problems than butane.

Which is why everyone who was awake for elementary school science classes mocked and derided hydrogen fuel cells, often suggesting something more containable with a better energy/volume ratio. Such as butane.

I don't remember the full debate at the moment, but I think there are varieties of fuel cells that could run off gasoline, diesel, ethanol, or something else that already has at least half of an infrastructure behind it.

Re:Butane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900225)

My car is running on Butane/Propane mix quite well, its available in about 1/3rd of all gas stations over here.

The REAL problem is that its a whole shitload bigger a problem to power a car (>>10kW power) than to power a cellphone (1-2W max).

THose things are not powering electric cars because nobody has yet managed to make them in that scale.

Re:Butane (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | about a year ago | (#42900525)

I dunno...

Making a clamp interconnect junction under the dash to hold, say, 4 butane lighter refill canisters as an "emergency" range extender, with the implication that you have to manually turn it on, seems like a reasonable idea.

The butane is supplied as a loaded cartrige: namely, the large "butane torch" size canisters themselves.

like these for instance [bernzomatic.com]

4 of them would be over 20oz of butane!

Re:Butane (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900757)

Yes because pressure vessels is science fiction. There is no problem storing the butane under pressure at a gas station, have a lightly reinforced rubber hose inserted into the car and then just pump butane (still under pressure) into the car. It have been done on several countries and is still done today.

Re:Butane (1)

mmontour (2208) | about a year ago | (#42900993)

In this case, the fuel cell is powered by butane. Butane is not readily available, in pure form, in large, easily transferable quantities all over the world. Gasoline, however, is.

Automotive propane is also widely available, and should be equivalent to butane as far as a fuel cell is concerned.

Gee (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42899981)

Why didn't I think of that?

Vaporware? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year ago | (#42899991)

Ok, so the butane cartridges are available, but the pre-order page isn't up yet at the main site (despite promising to be up over a month ago) and I see nothing on the other link about the actual device to plug the butane cartridges into to convert the butane to electricity.

Looks like Vaporware to me.

Re:Vaporware? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42900287)

Ok, so the butane cartridges are available, but the pre-order page isn't up yet at the main site (despite promising to be up over a month ago) and I see nothing on the other link about the actual device to plug the butane cartridges into to convert the butane to electricity.

Oddly, the fuel cartridges are listed as 'in stock,' shipping in May... [brookstone.com]

Price is $20, for what amounts to less than 2 ounces of butane. In contrast, ~5 ounce can of Ronson butane is about $5 at Walgreens.

Don't think it takes a math major to see what a screwjob this is.

Re:Vaporware? (1)

Nadaka (224565) | about a year ago | (#42900459)

You can always buy a 20 dollar cartridge and once it is used up, try to hack a charging port into it. May or may not work. It would only be truly impossible if they put DRM in it, like they are starting to do with ink jet cartridges.

Re:Vaporware? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42900497)

Unless the purity is the issue or more likely they are selling the fuel cell at a huge loss and the markup on the butane is covering that cost.

Re:Vaporware? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42900659)

Unless the purity is the issue or more likely they are selling the fuel cell at a huge loss and the markup on the butane is covering that cost.

Heh, I supposed we'll find out when/if they ever get any inventory ready for sale, won't we?

Re:Vaporware? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900973)

yes, business as usual..
we will have to wait for a 1st hack... refillable cartridge mod

Smartphone? (3, Funny)

nospam007 (722110) | about a year ago | (#42899995)

"Many of us have plug-in external batteries of one sort to recharge our smart phones when we're away from power outlets."

You mean your iPhones not Smartphones.
We with real Smartphones just switch the internal battery with one of our dozen full ones.

Re:Smartphone? (1)

afidel (530433) | about a year ago | (#42900195)

I have a flagship Android phone with a sealed battery, it recently survived an accidental trip in the bath so I'll take not being able to swap batteries for all the advantages it brings.

Re:Smartphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900341)

Hey now. This is about bashing Apple, not about pointing out the obvious.

Re:Smartphone? (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year ago | (#42900481)

You can switch the battery in the Samsung rugby phone and in many others that also support going into the bath so I am not sure what advantages there is to a sealed battery. Can you enumerate some ?

Re:Smartphone? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900647)

Typical slashdot. Baths are supposed to be intentional, and frequent, not accidental.

Re:Smartphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900971)

What makes you think those two facts(?) have to do with each other?

Re:Smartphone? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900205)

We with real Smartphones just switch the internal battery with one of our dozen full ones.

Not always. At my company we've got our web server (with online shop) running on a Nokia N900. The idea was to lower our electricity costs by having employees charge the phone at libraries and bus stations, where we'd just look like ordinary people and no one would suspect business use. Anyway, turning the phone off to change the battery would result in downtime that we can't afford. An external battery pack has proved a lifesaver in cases where we couldn't find a free outlet in time.

Re:Smartphone? (1)

N1AK (864906) | about a year ago | (#42900223)

There's nothing smart about buying a device which requires you to carry around 1200% more power than it can store natively in 12 additional units just to get through a typical days use. I've got a 'real' smartphone and there's no way in hell I'm going with as half-arsed solution as yours. At least a single external battery is only one thing to charge and carry.

Re:Smartphone? (1)

iMouse (963104) | about a year ago | (#42900251)

...oh, you mean like the Nexus 4?
...or like the Droid Razr/Maxx?
...or the HTC One X+?

I can replace the battery on my iPhone 4 with fewer removed screws. Your argument is invalid.

Re:Smartphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900285)

You mean the special screws only Apple has bits for?

Re:Smartphone? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42900527)

Huh?
They are standard screws you can buy a driver for online. They are not common, but they are available.

Re:Smartphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900803)

Yeah, pentalobe screwdrivers are a real difficult thing to find. In fact, Sears, Amazon, Radio Shack and Lowes has to import them from China!
 
Seriously? When is the fanboi FUD fest going to end around here?

Re:Smartphone? (1)

Graydyn Young (2835695) | about a year ago | (#42900613)

If you don't like those 4 phones, there are literally hundreds phones running Android to choose from. Requiring equipment to change the battery is pretty rare.

Re:Smartphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900975)

And I can replace the battery on my Samsung Note II without removing any screws. Your argument is invalid.

Re:Smartphone? (1)

Phasma Felis (582975) | about a year ago | (#42900315)

Why would I want to do that to my Android when an external pack is just as good, just as cheap, and doesn't require me to strip off my Otterbox and reboot my phone?

Re:Smartphone? (1)

ls671 (1122017) | about a year ago | (#42900331)

Bonus: and get better battery life. Since battery life is limited by charging/draining cycles. Using a battery to charge another battery is inefficient.

Well DOH! (1)

EasyTarget (43516) | about a year ago | (#42900045)

Why aren't fuel cells, not internal combustion engines, the "range extenders" in plug-in hybrid cars?
Because they are a battery substitute.. not an engine substitute.
Hybrid cars can charge from their gas engine.. but that engine also drives the wheels directly via a conventional gearbox when needed. it is the use of TWO different drive systems that makes them a Hybrid..
Any questions?

Re:Well DOH! (1)

countach (534280) | about a year ago | (#42900635)

Yes I have a question, why are you lecturing about things you are ignorant of? A Toyota Prius does NOT drive the wheels directly via a conventional gearbox. The engine recharges the battery continuously, and the battery turns the wheels via electric motors.

Re:Well DOH! (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about a year ago | (#42900929)

Um ... http://xkcd.com/386/ [xkcd.com]

What you're describing is a 'series hybrid', such as the Chevy Volt, although I wouldn't say 'continuously'. Unless they've made some change in the newer generation of Priuses (Priii?) are 'parallel hybrid', where both the electric motor and gas engine can turn the wheels.

Economics (1)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | about a year ago | (#42900057)

When developing a new technology, such as fuel cells with a high power yield, it's much more economical to start out in a small application like cellphones, to see how consumers would accept the idea and build the economies of scale it would take to crank out big-application (automotive, industrial) fuel cells cheaply.

Raspberry Pi/Arduino power source (3, Interesting)

ScienceofSpock (637158) | about a year ago | (#42900059)

Depending on the cost, this might make a nifty power supply for Raspberry Pi or Arduino based robots.

Re:Raspberry Pi/Arduino power source (1)

jdschulteis (689834) | about a year ago | (#42900589)

Depending on the cost, this might make a nifty power supply for Raspberry Pi or Arduino based robots.

$300, according to this site [damngeeky.com].

Bloody hell.... (5, Funny)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#42900071)

"A dead battery means important missed calls and emails, no GPS when you’re lost, no e-reader on your train ride, no communication in an emergency, and an overall feeling of dread and anxiety."

Yes, they actually say that [nectarpower.com]. May I be the first to recommend spending less on fancing charging gadgets and more on anxiolytic lifestyle aids, like benzodiazepines or heavy drinking?

Bloom (1)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#42900107)

Actually, a better question is why BLOOM energy's fuel cells, which are supposedly revolutionary, isn't a backup power source for an electric car? And whatever happened to those ultracapacitors? And Solar Cells? It's surprising to me that NO ONE has combined all the available technologies into one usable vehicle -- as the guys who go 'off grid' are able to glean from many energy sources to power their trailer homes.

Re:Bloom (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900215)

Fuel cell output is kinda tricky, I remember that the chem labs two floors above my theory lab were working on fuel cell tech. There were some pretty cool prototypes, but they required operational temperatures above 600C if I remember correctly, amongst other limitations (noted elsewhere) like limited power output vs. size and weight.

Because Fuel cells are expensive (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42900163)

They are not in common use because most of them require platinum or palladium. Also they require very pure fuel to prevent fouling the cell, this means most commercial fuels simply cannot be used.

Butane, huh? (5, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about a year ago | (#42900173)

So, that means I should be able to go down to the tobacco shop, get a can of compressed lighter fluid, and refill the charger on the cheap, right?

No? You're telling me I have to go buy proprietary cartridges that will, without doubt, cost far more than a can of commercial butane?

Yea, you can shove that over-priced, over-hyped bullshit right where the sun don't shine, Bucko.

Re:Butane, huh? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42900577)

Are you sure that stuff used for lighters is pure enough to not foul the cell?

Or maybe they sell the fuel cell at a loss and make it up this way.

Re:Butane, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900779)

Are you sure that stuff used for lighters is pure enough to not foul the cell?

If so, then it makes sense to make it hard to put the wrong kind of butane into the fuel cell.

Or maybe they sell the fuel cell at a loss and make it up this way.

This is indefensible. Every product should be sold for what it costs plus a reasonable markup.

Re:Butane, huh? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#42900891)

You need to inform the following industries of that:

Video Game Consoles
Razors(The original market)
Fast food (sandwiches for $1 are a loss, hoping you get fries and a drink)
Printers

I can find more when you finish that list off.

Re:Butane, huh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900895)

There's a chance that the fuel cells require much more purity than your average lighter.
There should be no problem to modify a fuel thingy with a charging connector taken from a lighter and take your chances with the fuel quality, just make sure the thingamabob it is empty before drilling it ;)

Video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900209)

Why do I need Flash to play this video? We are in 2013!

Research was in batteries (2)

nebular (76369) | about a year ago | (#42900317)

The car companies put most of their research dollars into batteries. Really that exactly what the should have done because the batteries are the workhorse. As a range extender the gasoline engine is readily available, cheap and fuel is available everywhere.

Now that Hybrids are common they can start working on alternate options for range extension. Hydrogen engines are probably next, followed by fuel cells.

stupidly dangerous (4, Informative)

slashmydots (2189826) | about a year ago | (#42900407)

I have a 1500mAh battery pack module with a full-sized USB port and a power-pin-only 5-pin USB micro cable, 4" long, in my jacket pocket at all times. So it's a reserve battery for any device and it'll charge 1 phone or 1/4 of 1 tablet or some portion of a GPS unit but so what? On the other side, it has a solar panel and a charging indicator, that's what! Take that, pocket full of unstable, flammable gas. So solar panel vs butane....yeah, I'll stick with my solution, thanks. In direct sunlight, it doesn't take real long to recharge the entire battery pack either. Yeah, I'm out of luck at night but considering I can get 21 days of idle runtime on my Samsung R640 on one charge from this reserve battery, I think I can find some sunlight after depleting it.

I believe I heard this Nectar device exceeds $300, or so they stated at CES. Mine cost $17 and it's from Scosche, which makes decent products.

Look again (1)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#42900469)

$20 for a combined 110Watt-hours of power is actually very expensive compared to the cost of charging LiIon battery pack 3 1/2 times. Meanwhile, a wall outlet is a hell of a lot easier to come by than one of those 'pods'.

If you think the high capacity batteries make a phone bulky, try an extra device dangling from it's USB port for awkwardness.

The harsh reality is.. (1)

sudden.zero (981475) | about a year ago | (#42900609)

...that with current technology fuel cells may be able to trickle charge a phone for a couple of weeks, but we are no where near replacing good old fossil fuels with any kind of fuel cell, battery cell, or other technology. The closest thing we have is the Tesla electric cars which do a more than reasonable job, but they are expensive. Not to mention that a lot of electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, like coal and oil, which still doesn't help the environment. So, if everyone were to convert to electric cars we would still have an issue with supply and demand. More electricity would be used, more coal would be burned, and as a result the cost of electricity would go up because demand would be high. Not to mention that burning coal isn't exactly clean. Of course there is the argument that we could switch to more nuclear power, but then there is the increased chance of nuclear disaster with each power plant that is added. It costs a ton to maintain a nuclear power plant safely, and we just don't have the kind of money to maintain that many nuclear power plants. So, the truth is that with current technology there is no answer to replacing fossil fuels with anything. We need innovation and lots of it to come close to replacing fossil fuels, and we just don't have enough innovators left in this country.

Holy $$$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900699)

Would be great for camping trips if the main unit with one pod wasn't $300.

Intonation FAIL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900729)

This presentation is driving me nuts with this guy's intonation going up at the end of each sentence.

CES WAS SO LONG AGO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42900761)

THIS IS NOT NEWS
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