Modular hydrogen fuel cells could provide week-long battery life for smartphones

A UK energy technology company has used the spotlight of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2016) in Las Vegas to unveil a number of prototype mobile devices with extended battery life through hydrogen-powered modular fuel cells.

Loughborough-based Intelligent Energy has been working on fitting smartphones, tablets and laptops – and even drones – with hydrogen fuel cells that can extend the working functionality of each device by up to a week by complementing existing batteries.

Acting managing director for Intelligent Energy’s consumer electronics division, Julian Hughes, said: “Our award-winning technology can be scaled up or down for a vast range of commercial applications – either to independently power the device or complement the existing battery.

“The existing grid infrastructure was not designed to keep up with today’s power requirements and alternatives need to be developed, which is where we come in. What we are aiming for is to mobilise energy production for consumer electronics and unleash the potential to realise a true global wireless economy.”

With predictions claiming that there will be upwards of 50 billion connected technology objects and devices by 2020, Intelligent Energy has developed the non-intrusive cells to enable consumers to become ‘producers’ of their own energy usage.

The modular cells provide instant energy; have also been developed to fit into existing hardware and are compatible to work side by side with existing device batteries.

Aqua adaptions

Hydrogen fuel cells have already proved to be a popular technology in the growing low-carbon vehicle market.

Meanwhile, Stanford University has developed a fast-charging aluminium-ion battery that could be a legitimate option for grid-level storage of renewable energy, and ‘hydricity’ – a solar-hydrogen energy hybrid system which has the potential to power cities around the clock – is being developed at Purdue University in Illinois.

With the Carbon Trust claiming that the use of mobile technology helped avoid 180 million tonnes of carbon emissions last year in the US and Europe, improved modular cells could increase this output and cut back on problematic e-waste.

Modular mobile phones are one of the innovative trends we are predicting to take off in 2016 as part of our green innovations checklist.

Matt Mace

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