Cellphone batteries once lasted a week on a charge. Today, power-hungry smartphones require daily plug-ins—sometimes more—which makes carrying adapters and hunting for outlets a part of everyday life. Engineers at Lilliputian Systems, a Massachusetts start-up, have developed the Nectar fuel cell, a portable charger that generates enough juice to power a USB-enabled phone once a day for two weeks.
Unlike other portable power sources, which store energy in batteries, the Nectar runs on butane. When a user plugs his phone into the Nectar's USB port, a replaceable butane cartridge releases fuel into the cell. As fuel passes over a ceramic membrane, oxygen ions pass through the surface, which generates a current. The process can run as hot as 1,830°F, so the engineers built a network of insulating silicon-nitride tubes to keep the Nectar's exterior cool. Once the butane cartridge is empty, users can recycle it.
After Lilliputian launches the Nectar in May, the company plans to focus on broader fuel-cell applications, such as building cells into laptops and other devices—pushing AC adapters ever closer to obsolescence.
LILLIPUTIAN SYSTEMS NECTAR
Dimensions: 4.6 by 3 by 0.9 inches
Price: $299 ($10 per extra cartridge)
Nice article but it left a few questions unanswered.
Since it's a USB charger I assume it puts out 5V. True?
How much current?
Can it run continuously for two weeks at it's max output?
If you unplug the device being charged does it stop consuming the fuel?
Does the Nectar charge an internal battery to provide peak power to actually run the device or does the fuel cell provide enough on it's own?
If it uses an internal battery how long do you have to wait before you can plug into the unit?
If there is an internal battery how much power does the fuel cell on it's own put out?
If the unit won't put out a couple of amps will a larger general purpose unit become available for example to power an RC plane, or radio, etc.? Maybe one with a 12V output.
What does it weigh?
"a portable charger that generates enough juice to power a USB-enabled phone once a day for two weeks."...
once a day for one minute? once a day for an hour?
once a day for eight hours? How many minutes of talk time once a day? help...
is the output 5V @ 500mA, 5V @ 1A.. how much?
Will it power an iPhone 24/7 for two weeks? *probly not*
Keep the research advancements coming guys. This might be a winner.
Very nice idea to eliminate Li-ion batteries and get closer to an original power source, maybe even a fully renewable biogas source.
We need this in the actual phones, but I guess heat is a major problem. I would so love to be able to fully charge my phone as quickly as a can pour a glass of water, or at least as quick as I can fill up a lighter with butane.