Fuel cell power for your gadgets

MTI Micro's Mobion gadget charger uses a fuel cell and replaceable cartridges to power up.

Candace Lombardi
In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.
Candace Lombardi
2 min read

MTI Micro, a subsidiary of Mechanical Technology Incoporated, unveiled a portable charger on Wednesday that uses replaceable fuel cartridges.

MTI Micro is not the first, and hopefully won't be the last, company to go to the fuel cell for portable convenient power. (People refer to these new tries as "fuel cell gadget chargers," though to me that seems like it refers to a charger for powering fuel cell gadgets.)

MTI Micro's Mobion prototype uses replacement fuel cell cartridges. MTI Micro

Just this past September, Medis came out with the 24-7 Power pack, a charger powered by a liquid fuel cell, for only $40 with replacement packs for about $20.

The MTI Micro Mobion prototype works with cartridges of the liquid fuel methanol. Each cartridge offers about 25 hours of power. When it's depleted, users just pop it out of the charger and replace it with another one.

Sounds promising, but we're still waiting to hear back from MTI Micro on the pricing of the charger and those cartridges. The company says the MTI Micro Fuel Cell Charger will be available as a product toward the end of 2009.

So, what does 25 hours of fuel cell power get you?

According to MTI Micro, you could use it to fully recharge any cell phone 10 times. You could also use it to power an MP3 player to play 10,000 songs or watch 100 hours of video.

As a person who travels a lot and tires of carrying various adapters, this is definitely something I'd want to try. As I'm generally a carry-on only traveler, it's a good think this "liquid" gadget could be taken onboard.