A Look at Fuel Cell Technology With Intelligent Energy's 'Upp' Hydrogen Power Pack for iPhone

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
49,687
11,004



Fuel cells, which generate power via chemical reactions, aren't exactly new technology, having been invented in the 1830s, but they're seen by some as one of the next steps in the evolution of electrical power. In the not-so-distant future, we may adopt fuel cells for powering cars, homes, and a whole range of consumer electronics with clean energy.

Intelligent Energy is one of the companies working to further fuel cell technology in the consumer space, having recently introduced its first hydrogen fuel cell iPhone charger, the "Upp." MacRumors went hands-on with the Upp to give fuel cell technology a try, and we spoke to Intelligent Energy's Corporate Development Director Julian Hughes, who shared some details about Intelligent Energy's fuel cell ambitions.

The Upp, introduced in the U.K. in November, is a hydrogen micro generator that uses replaceable, refillable fuel cartridges to charge an iPhone. With a cartridge attached, the Upp becomes a PEM (polymer electrolyte membrane) fuel cell, which transforms the chemical energy freed during a reaction of hydrogen and oxygen to electrical energy to power an electronic device. Since it's using a chemical reaction to create power, there's an audible clicking noise as the Upp releases water vapor while charging.

There are two main parts to the Upp: the base charger, and the fuel cell cartridge that it ships with. Using the Upp is as simple as popping the cartridge into the bottom of the charger, plugging a Lightning cable into the USB port, (not included) and then plugging in an iPhone.


Click here to read rest of article...

Article Link: A Look at Fuel Cell Technology With Intelligent Energy's 'Upp' Hydrogen Power Pack for iPhone
 

uwdude

macrumors 6502a
Jul 16, 2014
914
468
I guess this would make sense in situations where there was no electricity, but I can't see it being used as a common way to charge phones. Plus having to pay for each cartridge, it's kind of like the razor blade business model. Not sure if this would take off or not. Maybe for survivalist/camping scenarios.
 

thejd

macrumors member
May 6, 2010
66
13
I don't understand the logic this company is operating on. Why not charge a lot more for the device and allow users to refill the tank with distilled water?
 

Mike Oxard

macrumors 6502a
Oct 22, 2009
804
456
Just can't imagine a situation with cell or wifi signal with the inability to recharge phone or battery pack.
It's so you can play Crossy Road to overcome the monotony of being in the wilderness. Camping holidays will never be boring again.
 

MrCrowbar

macrumors 68000
Jan 12, 2006
1,993
148
This is a ridiculously silly concept, almost as silly as solar roadways...
There's MiPow power tubes, they're small, cheap, recharge your phone a bunch of times. You can have more than a week's worth of juice in a smaller and cheaper package and you may even take it on a plane.

One great thing about fuel in general is that it's convenient and fast to re-fill. This product however requires you to just buy a new cartridge to refuel and those cartridges ain't cheap. If you could re-fill it like a zippo lighter and buy the fuel at any old gas station, that concept could really take off.

You're better off with small deep cycle battery and a little voltage regular. That's pretty much what I use to re-charge my smaller RC model batteries on the go (I do use a small generator of the big ones).

----------

Just can't imagine a situation with cell or wifi signal with the inability to recharge phone or battery pack.
Exactly. As for road trips, you do know there's power outlets in every car right?
 

captain cadet

macrumors 6502
Sep 2, 2012
404
627
Why spend all that money where I can buy a charger that will break down over time which is 20 % of the cost but yet I don't have to spend £5 on an new cartrage? How long will they last? Not long as I seen online
 

leventozler

macrumors 6502
Feb 18, 2009
312
113
Upp: 500grams, 5,000 mAh, 2100mm x 40mm x 48mm, $199 retail, £10 to "refill"
Sony CP-F10L: 260grams, 10,000mAh, 130.6 x 70.4 x 16.5 mm, $119 retail, less than a cent? to recharge
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: rjohnstone

avanpelt

macrumors 68030
Jun 2, 2010
2,932
3,802
I'll pass. I have two 12,000-16,000 mAh USB batteries that each provide at least one week's worth of power to my iPhone 6 and fit nicely into a pocket in my backpack. So I'm good for at least two weeks without needing to have electricity to charge my phone. If I don't have power for more than two weeks, I'll have bigger problems than charging my phone.
 

Dayv

macrumors 6502
Aug 18, 2009
380
95
I don't understand the logic this company is operating on. Why not charge a lot more for the device and allow users to refill the tank with distilled water?
Why not skip the water too and just charge the phone through positive thinking or magical hexes? It's like they don't even understand business.
 

tirerim

macrumors regular
Aug 4, 2006
204
0
I don't understand the logic this company is operating on. Why not charge a lot more for the device and allow users to refill the tank with distilled water?
Because you can't get energy out of water, at least not without a stronger oxidizer than oxygen. You would need to refill it with actual fuel.
 

SHirsch999

macrumors 6502a
Apr 19, 2011
655
180
I don't understand the logic this company is operating on. Why not charge a lot more for the device and allow users to refill the tank with distilled water?
Because that's not how fuel cells work. Water is not the fuel. It is a product of the reaction along with electricity.
 

technosix

macrumors 6502a
Jan 13, 2015
929
11
West Coast USA
I'll pass. I have two 12,000-16,000 mAh USB batteries that each provide at least one week's worth of power to my iPhone 6 and fit nicely into a pocket in my backpack. So I'm good for at least two weeks without needing to have electricity to charge my phone. If I don't have power for more than two weeks, I'll have bigger problems than charging my phone.
I concur.

Personally I have a selection of Anker brand compact, light, and very efficient external batteries. Some for my backpack or laptop bag. Some as small and light as to be easily slipped into my pocket.

One being smaller than my iPhone itself, it provides just over 1.5x the runtime of the phones built in battery. Each well over a year old and very inexpensive, yet of top notch quality, had I not found these on Amazon I'd spent more for lesser quality units. With a soft touch grippy finish on their exterior, they are delightful to handle.

Each of them meet my needs ideally.
 

tirerim

macrumors regular
Aug 4, 2006
204
0
You could be up to 20 miles from a 3G cell tower. And 20 miles is a decent walk.
Yep, I've been in exactly this situation using my phone for GPS (with a topo map app) while backpacking through Yosemite. It might not be the most common situation for most people, but it definitely happens to some of us.

No, Elon Musk isn't a fan of hydrogen fuel cells, and his arguments are pretty good. Not all fuel cells use hydrogen, though.
 

ctdonath

macrumors 65832
Mar 11, 2009
1,502
483
Just can't imagine a situation with cell or wifi signal with the inability to recharge phone or battery pack.
Long-haul backpacking, like the Appalachian Trail (a good six-month walk).

You want occasional communication ability, plus the joy of having a large book/music/movie library without having to haul anything beyond an iPhone, with few options to recharge.
 

bob122989

macrumors member
Sep 26, 2007
34
99
Did anyone else immediately have the Mystery Science Theater 3000 theme song pop into their heads when reading this?

"In the not-so-distant future"
 

CFreymarc

Suspended
Sep 4, 2009
3,969
1,149
Fule cells show up in the mobile scene every now and then. Issue has always been hydrogen gas leaks and explosive emissions. The consumer liability for this is huge and can be a PR disaster.

In consumer, you can make something rugged but it just gets into rougher hands. Also, would something like this be allowed on an airline flight or an hazardous environment such as a chemical refinery?
 

Tech198

macrumors Pentium
Mar 21, 2011
15,094
1,965
Australia, Perth
Not bad tech..... I guess we we couldn't do this in 2012 ?

Apple will actually like this..... "refillable" ... Apple and their disposable/replaceable batteries.

I can't help feeling this would be "not as good as it sounds" kind of like how how used to refill ink cartridges yourself.... Something always goes wrong.... Either the re-fill u don't get the same as when it came, probably would not not last as long..... Just would have to think whats in it for the manufacture ? What's the catch ?
 

wilhoitm

macrumors 6502
Jul 22, 2002
391
332
I actually think the price is reasonable for an emergency situation or taking camping.
This would be great for the Zombie Apocalypse or maybe even your "Go Bag" for disaster preparedness! :D

Or maybe Apple is going to give Tesla a run for its money with Hydrogen powered cars with a 1000 mile range instead of battery powered electric cars? :apple:

I want one already! Is the Upp available in the United States?
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.