MTI Micro is currently field testing a portable charger, called the Mobion Fuel Cell Generator, for cell phones and electronic devices. It uses methanol fuel cell as power source. We had some hands-on time with the device and are impressed by its potential.
The Mobion Fuel Cell Generator is the most compact fuel cell engine of its type and can be used to charge portable devices via a USB port.
The device has a fuel cell engine that combines neat methanol and oxygen to generate electricity, with vapor as a byproduct. This prototype also has a built-in rechargeable battery that works as a "buffer," which can also be charged via a regular power source.
The fuel cell engine can be turned or of, much like that of a car.
This is the methanol cartridge to be used with the charger. It contains slightly less than 1 ounce of methanol and has about 25 watt-hours of power, enough to offer five or six full charges to the iPhone 4.
Apart from the charger, MTI's fuel cell engine is small and flexible enough to be used as embedded applications, such as in this prototype from Samsung. Applications like this will make the portable devices completely wireless, as there's no need to plug them into the wall at all.