The problem with most portable battery-based chargers is that you still need to plug them into a wall socket to gain a charge. While some inventors have turned to solar, or even wind power, for off-the-grid power sources, solar and wind power take time and require Mother Nature to provide sun or wind. Enter Kraftwerk, a fuel-based hand-held portable generator that has launched as a Kickstarter project.
Kraftwerk is essentially a tiny power plant you can hold in your hand to produce electricity. Its USB plugin charges hand-held devices, such as smartphones or cameras.
Insert a small amount of standard lighter gas, camping gas, or butane, then plug your device into the single USB port. Kraftwerk will start charging immediately. Just like an electrical outlet, there are no buttons. It's that easy. Better yet, Kraftwerk does not require any sort of proprietary cartridge, and the fuel you need to run it is readily available around the world. One filling of fuel will provide enough energy to charge a typical iPhone about 11 times.
Kraftwerk is created and backed by a small German startup, eZelleron, which has invented a new kind of fuel cell to form the heart of each Kraftwerk portable power plant.
To produce electricity, the fuel cells convert chemical energy into electrical energy, delivering 2 watts of continuous output with a peak power output of 10 watts. The process produces water vapor and carbon dioxide. It doesn't get damp nor does it create an odor.eZelleron says Kraftwerk is very quiet, and while it does get warm, it is protected against overheating.
Each Kraftwerk measures a little less than 8 x 12cm, and is around 3cm thick and is expected to retail for around US$150. While there are plenty of standard battery packs available -- and even some reasonably portable solar-powered chargers -- Kraftwerk is designed to work inside or outside, night or day, with fuel that is up to 20 times lighter than batteries.