Powertrekk fuel cell charger to be released in spring

Powertrekk, which uses water and a fuel cell puck to charge your phone in an emergency situation, is scheduled for a U.S. launch in April.

PowerTrekk fuel cell charger
Along with a fuel cell puck, the PowerTrekk gives your iPhone a bit of juice. Just add water. Lynn La/CNET

While it's been circulating around at trade shows for a while, including Mobile World Congress 2011 and CES 2012 , the PowerTrekk phone charger is slated to finally come to the U.S. at the end of this quarter.

Although the $229 device is peddled as a charger that can simply juice up your phone on water alone, it's not quite that simple.

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. If there is electricity available, however, you can also charge the separate internal battery in the PowerTrekk so it can power your phone later on.

When I handled the unit at iWorld in San Francisco, it was indeed very lightweight despite its industrial look, and in a situation where there is no sun, I can see it coming in handy.

However, there is much debate about how useful a product like this can be. Not only is it rather cumbersome in shape, but you'll need to continually buy more Pukks in order to use the device multiple times. Compared with solar chargers and chargers that run on kinetic energy, this can become wasteful and pricey.

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About the author

Lynn La is CNET's associate editor for cell phone and smartphone news and reviews. Prior to coming to CNET, she wrote for the Sacramento Bee and was a staff editor at Macworld. In addition to covering technology, she has reported on health, science, and politics.



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