We've been hearing about fuel cells for portable products for a few years now, but there are still none on the market. This will change in 2006, when Medis Technologies releases its Power Pak product, a fuel cell-based battery recharger for equipment such as cell phones, MP3 players, and portable gaming hardware.
The Power Pak will be sold much like a disposable battery: for $19.99, you'll get a container of liquid fuel (sodium borohydrate, glycerol, and alcohol) packaged with a disposable fuel cell. To get the power out, you'll need to plug in an adapter (sold separately) that connects to your device. We're told that the Power Pak will provide 60 hours of battery life for an iPod (spread over as many recharges as you need) or 30 hours for most cell phones.
The Power Pak cartridges will be safe to transport, lightweight, and small enough to stick in a corner of a briefcase. They're a little too bulky to carry in your pocket, but there will be a belt pouch, should you feel you need quick-draw access to your fuel.
We think this product will be great for anybody who ends up running down their devices during a day's work (or play) or who occasionally forgets to recharge at night. The Medis product does not, however, meet the vision we have of being able to juice up your device by tippling some liquid fuel into a little well in the battery. And Medis has no plans to make such battery replacements. This one product (with its low-cost adapters) can handle almost all the portable devices out there; making actual fuel-cell battery replacements for everything would be a much larger undertaking.