Intelligent Energy Upp fuel cell

A superbly designed auxiliary charger whose power never fades

Image: Hugh Threlfall

I have a rule on this page that any technology that is a solution looking for a problem is out of bounds. I don’t have the heart, however, to ban the new Upp fuel cell from Loughborough company Intelligent Energy. This is a superb auxiliary power booster for mobile phones, tablets and USB-compatible electronic devices. It does the same job as, say, a Power Traveller solar charger, but using fuel-cell technology that stores 2.23g of hydrogen in one replaceable cartridge, each capable of around five phone charges. But Upp is quite bulky – 620g with one cartridge. A key USP, though, is that however long the device lies dormant, its power will not fade. It is also, the maker promises, certified flight safe.

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Upp is strictly for gadget nuts like me who are intrigued by something new, even when its practical uses seem rather limited. What it really amounts to is a classic piece of fine but unpromising British scientific prowess; a future collectors’ piece to show off when all our phones are hydrogen powered.

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