Wednesday 22 February 2017

Apple files new patent for fuel cell battery that could last weeks

James Titcomb

Published 04/09/2015 | 09:10

Revenue surged 28pc in greater China despite stiff competition
Revenue surged 28pc in greater China despite stiff competition

Apple has filed a renewed patent for a fuel cell battery that could power its devices "for days or even weeks", a potential step on the way to ending battery life issues.

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The patent application, published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, describes a "portable and cost-effective fuel cell system for a portable computing device" that could use a number of different energy sources to provide long-term power.

Filing the new patent is probably a routine legal procedure, rather than suggesting any imminent application of the idea. Apple filed patents on the same subject several years ago, and often patents ideas that do not end up in their products.

While the new patent application, which suggests a number of different energy sources from sodium borohydride to liquid hydrogen, varies little from its previous filings, its renewal could suggest that Apple is still interested in the idea.

The filing says fuel cells "can potentially enable continued operation of portable electronic devices for days or even weeks without refueling".

The Telegraph recently revealed a major breakthrough by British firm Intelligent Energy, which said it had installed a hydrogen fuel cell in an iPhone that could power it for a week without recharging.

The patent in question, however, appears to relate to MacBooks. It repeatedly mentions the MagSafe connector used on the laptop computers, and does not namecheck the "Lightning" connectors used on the iPhone and iPad.

The patent mentions that the energy could come from "a fuel cartridge which is detachably affixed to the fuel cell system", meaning rather than recharging, one would simply replace the device's cartridge when it had run out.

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