December 18, 07
Formira Micro Fuel Cell has 3x More Power for Cell Phones

Harnessing the power of ant bites and bee stings, a B.C. company has developed a micro fuel cell that will come on the market next year to recharge cellphones, digital cameras, iPods or any other electronic device anywhere, anytime and could eliminate the need for recharging all electronic devices forever.

"It's like carrying your wall plug around with you," said Neil Huff, chief executive officer of Burnaby-based Tekion. "It'll charge your cellphone at the same rate the wall plug does."

Tekion's recharger, which contains a miniature fuel cell that runs on formic acid - the same chemical emitted as venom by biting ants and bees.

In fuel cells, formic acid gives more concentrated power than other fuels, allowing it to be integrated into small electronic devices such as the cellphone, which Huff described as the "Holy Grail" of devices to master. As cellphones add more and more functions such as cameras, video and MP3s, they require so much power that batteries are reaching their limits.

The revolutionary new fuel cell can be used in place of batteries providing two to three times the energy of lithium batteries and could be made for all portable electronic devices giving cell phones almost a week of talk time. Simply change the recyclable cartridge and the device will have the advantage of instantaneous recharging, all without the hassle of ever having to plug-in.

Tekion has developed a proprietary formula of formic acid that it calls Formira, based on the scientific name for red ant - Formica rufa. Formic acid is non-flammable and biodegradable and is also used in leather tanning, to de-ice airport runways, and as a preservative in animal feed.

"It's a very friendly fuel," Huff said.

The recharger should find its market with heavy users, campers and in countries with lots of cellphone users but erratic electricity, such as India and the low cost will make it a no-brainer for people who are too busy to worry about charging their devices.