6 Hydrogen Fuel Cells for Smartphones
Fuel cells have shown some promise at various points in time but they haven’t really taken off yet. All the while, pure-play stocks for hydrogen fuel cells just keep sinking lower and lower. A few years ago we identified 10 fuel cell stocks, of which 4 are traded on U.S. exchanges. We took these 4 fuel cell stocks and created a motif, not so we could actually invest in them but so we could see how they performed over time. Good thing we didn’t invest because they’ve been decimated over time:
Since we created the motif, it’s down over -57% to date having lost -33% since the beginning of this year alone. Maybe larger fuel cells just aren’t economical and are being outpaced by advancements in lithium batteries. Speaking of lithium batteries, the majority of our readers have a lithium battery in their pocket or very close by in the form of the ubiquitous smart phone. If that’s so, then you’re constantly having to charge that smartphone because you rely on it so much. That need to constantly keep your smart phone charged has led to a number of companies that are developing small compact hydrogen fuel cells for that very purpose. Let’s look at 6 of these companies.
Founded in 2004, San Francisco startup Ardica took in a single funding round of $1.88 million in 2012 to create mobile power solutions for the military and consumer market such as the Wearable Power System (WPS) seen below:
The selling point for this company is an energy source called Alane which comes from recycled aluminum. These cartridges have a weight savings of 65% compared to lithium batteries and are safe and recyclable when spent. Apparently, they’ve received some rave reviews from the U.S. Army.
When myFC talks about green energy, that’s exactly what they are delivering on. myFC has built the smallest and most powerful fuel cell charger in the world which runs on little cards you insert that contain just water and salt.
While they say the device is available for pre-order, asking me for my name and email address and then saying “we’ll notify you” hardly constitutes taking preorders. At any rate, myFC is actually a publicly-traded company on NASDAQ OMX (MYFC:FN Stockholm) and has lost -59% year-to-date giving the company a present market cap of around $33 million.
Founded in 2003, this Singapore company has 5 international subsidiaries which are selling all kinds of fuel cell products. Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies has been selling their MiniPak handheld hydrogen fuel cells since 2011 and you can pick one up on Amazon right now for about $95.00:
The product is good for 1-2 charges of a 3G smartphone and these guys have been selling it for 4 years now so it’s not exactly new technology. This product looks a whole lot like the next product we’re going to highlight from a company called Brunton.
This is a company we’ve never heard about but apparently, they’ve been around since 1894. Brunton has developed portable hydrogen fuel cells that retail for $169.99 but are available on Amazon like the one seen below for $99.95:
That device above will charge your iPhone three times before needing another “Hydrocore Cartridge” which will set you back $8.00 a pop. So you’re paying roughly $2.66 every time you want to charge your cell phone? We might pay that premium for a very unique case like an extended camping trip but otherwise, it doesn’t sound very cost-effective.
This company was brought to our attention by one of our readers and is a publicly-traded stock developing fuel cells for the automotive, consumer electronics and stationary power markets. In January of this year, they signed a “Letter of Intent” with a drone company which doesn’t mean a whole lot at this point. They also signed a “Joint Development Agreement” with an emerging market smartphone company around the same time. This is a company that has lost more than -80% of their share price value in the past year alone so we’re not holding our breath that they’re actually going to deliver anything until they can stop their share price from imploding.
This last company is developing a small fuel cell that runs on butane fuel, and so far just looks like a good example of why you should pretty much just pass on the majority of crowdfunding campaigns and instead wait and pay a bit more IF the product actually hits the market. This device was supposed to allow you to charge an iPhone 11 times which would be 10 times more power than a traditional charger, at just 50 % of the weight.
Now the timeline they promised stated a product delivery for December 0f 2015 and now we’re rapidly approaching December of 2016 and nothing has been delivered. We’re not backers so we don’t get updates but as with many other Kickstarter projects, a quick look at the comments section just doesn’t look promising.
At least 2 of these companies have mini hydrogen fuel cells that you can buy right now but ask yourself, would you really want to lug one of these things around and then worry about buying more hydrogen cartridges all the time? As fuel cell technology keeps struggling to reach critical mass in much broader use cases like automotive, electric utilities, and air transport, we’re just not convinced that there’s a real market here outside of niche applications like outdoor activities.
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