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article imageHydrogen-powered phone battery could provide charge for a week

By James Walker     Aug 23, 2015 in Technology
A British firm has created a tiny hydrogen-powered battery that could let modern smartphones survive an entire week's usage without having to return to the charger. The company has already created a working iPhone 6 prototype device.
The Independent reports on the electricity-generating battery. Hydrogen and oxygen combine in a small fuel cell, leaving behind trace amounts of waste heat and water. The technology is basically a miniaturised version of the hydrogen fuel cell technology used by the automotive industry.
The prototype iPhone, seen exclusively by The Telegraph, is essentially unmodified. The fuel cell is around the same size as the chassis of the iPhone 6 but is so thin that it can fit alongside the conventional battery without any alterations.
There are no visible differences between an off-the-shelf iPhone and a fuel cell-equipped one save for a row of rear vents that let the waste water vapour escape. The battery is currently recharged by refilling the fuel cell with hydrogen gas through the iPhone's headphone socket, adapted so it can funnel the hydrogen to the fuel cell.
Production devices - still "a couple of years out" - will use disposable cartridges of hydrogen that slot into the bottom of phones and hold enough gas to cover typical usage for a week. The market is estimated to be worth as much as £300 billion a year, although the cost of cartridges has yet to be determined.
The battery is made by Intelligent Energy, a British company specialising in new forms of power technology. Henri Winand, company CEO, told The Telegraph: "To our knowledge this has never been done before. We have now managed to make a fuel cell so thin we can fit it to the existing chassis without alterations and retaining the rechargeable battery. This is a major step because if you are moving to a new technology you have to give people a path they are comfortable with."
External power banks utilising fuel cells can already be bought and used as a way to quickly top up a device on the go. However, they are typically expensive and bulky and have not found much success, especially as ever-larger lithium power banks have recently seen costs fall.
Intelligent Energy is thought to have been working closely and directly with Apple to incorporate its technology so successfully into the iPhone 6 with only minor modifications. Neither Intelligent Energy or Apple have commented on the claims.
The future of battery technology looks to be increasingly bright as in recent months several breakthroughs have been unveiled that could all put an end to low-charge woes. Hydrogen fuel cells are just one possible solution to a problem that is likely to stay with our tech-dependent world for some time to come.
More about Apple, iphone 6, Hydrogen, Fuel cell, Fuel
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