Signa Chemistry has developed hydrogen cartridges which supply energy to fuel cells that recharge cell phones, laptops and GPS units.
They're aimed at outdoor enthusiasts as well as residents of regions where mains electricity is rare.
"In our lab, we were able to produce alkali metal silicides, which basically are made from sodium and silicon, which, in turn, are produced from salt and sand," says James Dye, Signa’s co-founder and a chemistry professor at MSU.
"By adding water to sodium silicide, we’re able to produce hydrogen, which creates energy for fuel cells. The byproduct, sodium silicate, is also green. It’s the same stuff found in toothpaste."
Signa was able to develop a power platform that produces low-pressure hydrogen gas on demand, converts it to electricity via a low-cost fuel cell and emits simple water vapor.
The team's developed a fuel cell that ranges in size from one watt to three kilowatts, and which is capable of pushing a bicycle at up to 25 mph for approximately 100 miles. The company says the same type of cell could be used to produce power for a wide range of devices.
"Signa has created an inherently safe solution to produce electric power, resulting in an eco-friendly and cost-effective portable solution," says Michael Lefenfeld, Signa’s CEO.