Oct 26, 2010

Science Scene - PortaPower

In many areas of the world, and also during times of natural disasters, clean drinking water and access to power are scarce.  Company "The Essential Element" has designed the Hydra water purifier and fuel cell to take care of both of those problems at once.

A Hopewell, N.J., company called The Essential Element aims to provide all three with a mobile device that it says purifies more than 87,000 liters of water a day. The device will simultaneously create hydrogen for running an onboard fuel cell or for burning in a separate camp-style cooking stove. The unit also has wall sockets that can be used to charge cell  phones and run other electronics.

Best of all, the system, called the Hydra, gets all its power from the sun. The Hydra’s 3.65- by 2.74-meter solar panel, which is 8 percent efficient, generates 2.88 kilowatts. That is enough to do the following: power a 900-watt pump that draws water to and through the unit’s self-cleaning filtration device, top off a bank of lead-acid gel batteries capable of storing 900 ampere-hours, and run an electrolyzer that splits enough water to fill a 0.37-cubic-meter propane tank with hydrogen pressurized to 140,000 kilograms per square meter.

The hydrogen stored during the day is consumed by a fuel cell to power the pump and water purifier at night, as well as power communication devices or a camp stove. The electricity from the fuel cell and the photovoltaic panels, which sit atop a 4.9-meter-long wheeled trailer, can also power other gadgets and communications gear through 110 volts or 230 V AC and 12 V DC sockets in the trailer.



  1. With the shortage of drinking water and access to power throughout much of the third world, something like this is has the ability to be a game changer. I wonder how much it would cost and if third world countries or NGO's are interested.

  2. I am sure this invention will help in world disasters when clean drinking water cannot be had ~ and also communications ~ How Lucky we are to live in this age of wonderful discoveries and inventions ~ Allyx

  3. What a concept. It's about time.

  4. Hadn't actually heard of this machine Ken; that is rare. Did you see any figures floating around about cost? Didn't see any on the immediate source link. Just wondering if the cost will be small enough to launch on a large scale where I think it could be used the most, the developing world.


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