February 9th, 2010
03:37 AM GMT
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For years, it's been called the fuel of the future. But I wasn't expecting THIS vision just yet.

Hydrogen fuel cell technology was first embraced a few years back by carmakers eager to go green. The big obstacle? Hydrogen at the pump wasn't available, and was expensive to produce.

But one inventor hope to change that.

Hubbing through Hong Kong, Taras Wankewycz showed me a table-top hydrogen power station that can extract hydrogen from water to be used in fuel cells.

The Hydrofill uses electricity from the outlet (as well as solar panels if you're particularly green), and produces hydrogen that can then be stored in refillable cartridges. The system can pump out 2.5 watts of power.

(And brushing Hindenburg nightmares aside, the company insists the technology is safe.)

No word yet on the cost. Online chatter puts it at about $200 for the whole kit, but Taras himself is mum on giving an exact number because he's still in talks with retailers. He expects to have it on shelves at the end of the year.

Taras' company, Singapore-based Horizon Fuel Cell Technologies, is also pushing out a range of products which can use the cartridges to power up smartphones, lights and other devices including a zippy RC hydrogen fuel cell car.

Taras is confident his invention is the very first step to a so-called hydrogen economy where hydrogen displaces oil as our chief source of energy.

One interesting upside - hydrogen is a compact and relatively light source of power... which is why the US military has been developing hydrogen-powered drones.

Of course, the obvious big upside of hydrogen is that it's clean. Hydrogen fuel cells produce only water vapor as a by-product. But power is still needed to produce the stuff.

My own private... wind turbine? (Hat tip to Constance Cheng, my Eco Solutions producer.)



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