Smartphones have a nasty habit of keeping us glued to the nearest power outlet but a new fuel cell could end all that.

Swedish developers at MyFc have created JAQ, a portable charger that uses salt and water to charge your phone. The cell works by having a disposable power card, which contains salt and water, inserted into the charger. Inside the cell, the salt and water reacts to produce hydrogen. JAQ, which doesn’t require a power outlet, is then connected to your smartphone via a USB, providing 1800 mAh — nearly a full charge for an iPhone 6S or Samsung Galaxy S6. Björn Westerholm, MyFC's CEO, explains why this product — priced under $100 – is the "greenest" way to charge your smartphone. 

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What inspired you to create JAQ?

We saw a huge gap in how people consume energy today compared to the available energy that we have in our mobile devices. Also we know that this gap will increase due to the fact that we are living the connected life — the app culture. So all of us need more mobile power, but we have to go back to the grid or wall to fill up to be able to do so. Even if you have a power bank, you’ll need to plan and charge from the wall — and this is in 2016 — and the best thing about our technology is that it’s green. We believe the fuel cell technology and hydrogen as fuel, are the future.

How is JAQ different to all the other portable batteries on the market?

The value proposition is totally different and in fact all the customers that have tried batteries are our best customers. We differ mostly because by using JAQ you will never ever have to go back to the grid again if you don't want to. We produce green energy on the go. A battery comes with a wall charger and you must remember to charge it every time you want to use it, whereas batteries are just storage devices, so they can't keep electrons still; they disappear whether you use the energy in the battery or not. As a consumer, you just want to be served, you don't want to manage an additional device that runs out of power. 

How is it possible to create green electricity using salt and water?

This is a very natural process that is ongoing in nature as soon as you have salt and water present. We use the natural process at an increased speed to give us the desired hydrogen. The hydrogen is the fuel for the fuel cell, which converts the hydrogen molecules and then separates the proton and electron from each atom. Basically, the fuel cell is a membrane that causes the proton to shake loose from the electron, transporting it through the air to react with oxygen on the outside — thus creating water again.

Is it necessary to charge JAQ before using it with the phone?

No, JAQ sorts that out itself. You never have to charge JAQ before plugging it into your phone — just insert a PowerCard and you’re ready to go.

How do the PowerCards work?

The PowerCards are disposable – each card provides 1800mAh (approximately one full smartphone charge) The cards contain water, salt and a lot of know-how. In terms of recycling, that varies from country to country but as the card is sealed with thin plastic, the recycle bin for plastics is what we advocate.

– By Daniel Casillas