Just four days ago kraftwerk launched a half-million dollar Kickstarter campaign–that has already surpassed half its goal–to fund final development and production of a portable butane fuel cell for consumer electronics. It’s one of the first of a new breed of fuel cell technology with widespread consumer applications. For travelers (and field researchers) it promises to provide 11 charges of an iPhone with each butane fluid refill. And it does this while weighing just 7 oz. Compare that to the Energizer/XPAL XP18000 100WH lithium battery with a similar charging capacity that weighs 2.3x as much. The kraftwerk also beats lithium ion batteries on refill time requiring just a couple of seconds while the XP18000 takes at least a couple of hours to charge from the mains. But there are sacrifices too. For now, the kraftwerk can only provide 2 amps maximum at 5 volts, which is well under the XP18000 that can be used to charge most (powered off) laptops.
Coming on the heels of news about Toyota’s forthcoming Mirai hydrogen fuel cell car, it seems we may be close to a shift in use and thinking about direct power generation via fuel cells versus traditional battery charging—now even at the scale of USB chargers. Check out more at kraftwerk’s kickstarter page.