Will fuel cells be the next big thing for laptop batteries? Apple is looking into this possibility as a patent application reveals.
Apple Insider reports that two Apple patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office show that the company is interested in fuel cells -- the titles of the applications are "Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device" and "Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device."
Apple Insider notes that the company, "makes a case for using fuel cells to power portable electronic devices, noting that hydrogen and associated fuels could allow such devices to operate 'for days or even weeks without refueling.' But the company also notes there are challenges in creating hydrogen fuel cell systems that are portable and cost-effective."
Not only that, but getting people to refuel their laptops by changing out the fuel cell rather than just plugging into a wall might prove to be a challenge. We might not be ready for fuel cells as consumers for quite awhile, in addition to the technology being years away. Even so, it is an intriguing idea for the use of a renewable alternative energy.
"As a consequence of increased consumer awareness, electronics manufacturers have become very interested in renewable energy sources for their products, and they have been exploring a number of promising renewable energy sources such as hydrogen fuel which is used in hydrogen fuel cells," both documents state, as Apple Insider notes.
However, if our power grid continues to use more and more renewable energy, such as solar and wind, then powering up by plugging into a wall will be less and less polluting. Making the case for fuel cells instead will be centered on if the laptops can really be made smaller, lighter, and have a battery that lasts longer than any plug-in battery could.
Apple Insider has images of the patent applications if you'd like to check them out.