Sodium, silicon from salt, and sand are the key ingredients to a new portable hydrogen fuel cell charger for electronic equipment like laptops and mobile phones, cameras, and G.P.S. devices.
James Dye, professor of chemistry emeritus at Michigan State University, first harnessed sodium silicide – a compound containing sodium and silicon – to be used in a very recent technological advancement, a “super charger” called the PowerTrekk.
The PowerTrekk is a new portable battery pack and fuel cell from Swedish fuel cell technology company myFC. Launched during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it produces clean energy using a mobile-H2 cartridge developed by the American green chemical technology company SiGNa Chemistry Inc.
Adding water – any type of water including salt water – to the PowerTrekk’s H2 cartridge causes a chemical reaction that produces hydrogen which is converted into electricity with the only by-product being a little water vapor.
The key to this reaction is sodium silicide, which Mr. Dye previously used to fuel electric bicycles before being approached by SiGNa.
“In our lab, we were able to produce alkali metal silicides, which are basically made from sodium and silicon,” explained Mr. Dye, also a co-founder of SiGNa.
“By adding water to sodium silicide, we’re able to produce hydrogen, which creates energy for fuel cells. The byproduct, sodium silicate, is also green. It’s the same stuff found in toothpaste,” he added.
SiGNa Chemistry specializes in designing custom hydrogen solutions for the fuel cell industry and developed the PowerTrekk fuel cartridge specifically for myFC.
“At SiGNa, we can customize our H2 solutions to meet any portable power need,” said Michael Lefenfeld, SiGNa chief executive officer.
“SiGNa has created an inherently-safe solution to produce electric power, resulting in an eco-friendly and cost-effective portable solution,” he added.
The PowerTrekk acts as both battery pack and fuel cell, operating as a ready source of power, which enables instant charging without needing a wall charge. Its cartridge, called the PowerPukk, is said to be able to fully charge a smart phone’s battery.
The PowerTrekk is expected to be shipped internationally in October for an estimated $200 each. It will come in either five or ten packs with a shelf life of two years.