New Fuel Cell Design Could Help Laptops Run 5 to 10 Times Longer

A new fuel cell design that would convert methanol into hydrogen could provide 50 hours' worth of juice to laptops and other portable electronics. The compact device — unveiled by Ronald Besser, a professor of chemical engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, at a recent American Chemical Society meeting — could be instantly recharged by swapping in a fuel pack.

The model he proposed assembles the various processing steps into concentric tubes that would create a cylindrical design in which heat from a central combustor could spread in all directions — greatly facilitating the required reactions. Aerogels incorporated into each layer would keep the tubes at the optimal temperature, and the use of advanced plastics to make them would help reduce costs. The fuel processor would be 4.8 cm in diameter and 10 cm long. Although the fuel cell and fuel storage could add on an extra 20 cm of length, Besser thinks the processor would still be small enough to fit in a laptop.In such a configuration, the fuel cell system could pack as much as 1,000 watt-hours per kg — more than 3 times the amount of energy the very best batteries can muster and much more than a conventional laptop battery can supply. Great news for those of us who live and die by our laptop's battery lives.

Via ::Technology Review: Practical Fuel Cells for Electronics (news website)

See also: ::Eco-Tip: Make Your Lithium Batteries Last, ::Toshiba Portégé R500 Saves Power with Solid State Hard Drive, ::Notepower Brings the Sun to Your Lap
Image courtesy of Ronald Besser

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