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.
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.