It seems that the latest tech obsession these days are batteries and that fever is reaching beyond just smartphones and tablets. A newly published patent has revealed that even Apple is considering alternative forms of power source to fuel not its iPhones and iPads but its future MacBooks. And the technology it is mulling over is none other than fuel cells. In theory, a MacBook that bears a fuel cell battery, in addition to a conventional lithium ion one, can last for days, maybe even weeks, on a single charge.
Lithium ion batteries are great for their portability and versatility but are relatively short lived. Fuel cells, on the other hand, are longer lasting but harder to get right and safe in small sizes. Recently, there has been a greater surge of interest, in no small part thanks to the surge in mobile devices, to look for either alternative Li-on materials or alternative kinds of batteries altogether. And one of the favorites are fuel cells.
In fact just last month, British company Intelligent Energy showed off an iPhonethat has been retrofitted with a hydrogen fuel cell inside. Without any other major change to the device, the iPhone was claimed to last for a week. There is also word that the company might actually be in talks with Apple, which implies that future iPhones could very well have that feature.
It appears there might be a spec of truth to that rumor. Or at least to the possibility that Apple is considering fuel cell technology for the future of its devices. This ” Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device” patent doesn’t exactly mention the MacBook by name, but the presence of MagSafe chargers does seem to hint that. The idea is that these MacBooks won’t totally rely on fuel cells but only as a backup to the traditional battery. The fuel cells will also come in removable cartridges that can be refueled or recharged separately.
Apple doesn’t seem to have settled on the type of fuel cell material it will use, keeping its doors open to the likes of liquid hydrogen or gas and other possible materials. Of course, a patent doesn’t always mean that there will be a future product based on it, only that Apple is dancing around with the idea. The way things are going, however, that could actually happen soon.