Buried in my junk mail this weekend was a catalogue containing all those gadgets that might come in handy once in a lifetime – you know the sort – solar powered tea strainers and personalised tin-openers – that kind of thing (I must get some to give out as Christmas presents…)
One was a water-powered calculator. I haven’t seen that kind of thing before, and I’m guessing it must have some kind of fuel cell arrangement exploiting the gunk in tap water to produce a chemical reaction that gives enough current to operate the calculator.
Anyway, the issue was not that it ‘ran’ on water, but that it claimed to be ‘battery and electricity free’. Techinically a fuel cell isn’t a battery, so that one might be OK, but electricity free? Ummm. Bet it contains lots of integrated circuits. What do they run on. Water?
Yes, I know what they mean, but what they’ve said is kind of on a par with those who talk about 400 kilovolts of current flowing down a power-line.
On the subject of fuel cells/ batteries, I read last week a short comment that electric cars would be good for the power grid since they would generally be recharged during the night, when there is less demand for power from other sources. And at peak times, those cars plugged in could provide a boost to the electricity supply.
An interesting thought, though of course this relies on enough power generating capacity to power the cars in the first place (no mean achievement if all the country’s cars became electric in say 30 years time) and I’m not convinced I would be happy if I plugged my car in for a quick top-up one evening only to find its battery/fuel cell/capacitor bank had been drained to power some guy’s playstation.