Not necessarily in cars, but in consumer electronics, where small portable electricity generating power packs can recharge smart phones, tablets and perhaps someday replace lithium ion laptop batteries.
Pike Research calculated last year that the annual sales of portable fuel cells could reach 7 million units by 2017, with large-scale production beginning in 2015. Just a few days ago, the news came out that Apple is looking at fuel cells to power iPads, iPhones and iPods.
The opportunity has not been lost on entrepreneurs. One company pursuing the market is SiGNa Chemistry, which with Swedish partner myFC is releasing in Europe this month a portable charger for cell phones, cameras and other electronics (pictured). It will come to the States this spring.
The unit uses a sodium silicide cartridge that when mixed with water generates hydrogen and powers the charger. CEO Michael Lefenfeld claims his fuel cell has 1,700 watt hours of power per kilogram compared with the 250 in a lithium battery. The replaceable cartridges will sell for less than $5.
Lefenfeld said his company raised about $4.5 million in 2007 from Provenance Venture Forum. Is he looking for more?
“We always look for money,” he said.