Apple's portable power podule patent promises paroxysms of fanboi joy

Battery life enlengthened by hydrogen fuel cell tech

Possibly realising that devices with a limited battery life can be annoying, Apple has filed a patent for a portable power system with a potential endurance of days, not hours.

The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) published the patent (Number 8980491) assigned to the fruity firm for a design of a “portable and cost-effective fuel cell system for a portable computing device”.

Fuel cells, rather than storing energy as batteries do, utilise external elements for the chemical reaction which produces current.

Although hydrogen is the most common source of fuel for standard implementations of the technology, Apple's patent suggests the use of sodium borohydride, sodium silicate, lithium hydride, magnesium hydride, and lithium borohydride, among others (and alongside water) to power this device.

Apple's new system includes a cell stack which converts fuel into electrical power, along with a fuel source for the stack and a controller which handles the operation of the fuel cell system.

Interfacing with a portable computing device, a power link that provides power to the portable computing device will be accompanied by a bidirectional communication link. Standard stuff, really.

The Patently Apple blog reckons the patent allows "fuel cells and associated fuels [to] potentially achieve high volumetric and gravimetric energy densities, which could potentially enable continued operation of portable electronic devices for days or even weeks without refueling".

The fruity voracious appetite for battery brains has got it into legal hot water previously, with battery company A123 suing it over allegations that Apple poached its staff.

Complaints about battery life have been a feature of iPhone reviews. If Apple takes a lead in this market-wide issue, those complaints might soon be stifled. ®

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