Technology journalists all over the world have descended onto Las Vegas for the 2015 CES, Consumer Electronics Show, but there's still room around the globe for other news announcements. Today I'm bringing you a story that eZelleron have announced the kraftwerk fuel cell 'phone charger, which is a means of recharging mobile 'phones via a USB port. eZelleron is a German company and have a number of PhDs working for them; the pocket fuel cell charger is considered to be as effective as is commercially viable with current technology. Compared with a regular, rechargeable battery charger, the fuel cell unit has the advantage that it's much quicker to recharge – all of three seconds to top up the butane fuel inside the unit, in a similar way to a camping gas unit or cigarette lighter. Output is between 400 mA to 2 A, so this fuel cell is better suited to topping up a smartphone rather than a tablet. To put this into perspective, an old, normal MicroUSB charger puts out 500 mA and the one that I use for my Nexus 10 puts out 2 A (and I have all sorts of output chargers at home).
In terms of output, eZelleron claim that the kraftwerk is good to recharge an iPhone eleven times. Given how small most iPhone batteries are compared with flagship Android devices, we can probably at least halve this, so putting some numbers to the story this means that it'll take three seconds to top up the unit and it'll then give you five charges of your smartphone. If you're camping, this could be a weeks worth (unless you're bored!). The kraftwerk is heat shielded and safe for indoor use and has been approved for airline safety standard, so you can fly with it. It's impressive stuff, but there's more: eZelleron have released this as a Kickstarter campaign. The project has raised around $280,000 towards the $500,000 goal with 56 days to go. You'll need to pledge $99 in order to score your own kraftwerk charger when they start shipping later this year.
It's an interesting idea and one that I'm surprised hasn't been tried before. Rechargeable batteries are heavy and require a relatively long recharging themselves, whereas popping into a newsagent to refuel the kraftwerk sounds like an elegant solution. If you fancy your very own fuel cell recharger, hit up the source link below and let us know.