A number of recent patents have been filed by none other than Apple regarding fuel cells that can be inserted into portable devices, like Apple’s MacBook Air or other laptops, without adding a tremendous amount of weight. This could open up new doors for Apple laptops, which are already settings standards for their extremely slim and lightweight designs.
One of the patent applications, known as Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device, states that due to environmental and geopolitical concerns, there is an “increasing awareness and desire” for consumers to use renewable energy sources.
Apple has taken a keen interest in fuel cells as they “can potentially achieve high volumetric and gravimetric energy densities”. What this basically means is that these new cells will be able to store a lot of energy in a small space. A successful cell would have the potential to enable continued operation of a portable electronic device for days or weeks without needing to be recharged, according to the patent.
In addition to that, the patent lists a plethora of potential fuel sources, including sodium borohydride and water, sodium silicate and water or lithium hydride and water. However, Apple concedes that it is in the challenging process of designing a hydrogen fuel cell in a cost effective manner that is also portable enough to be used in a laptop.
Despite this research and development into more energy efficient battery sources for laptops, Apple was recently trashed by Greenpeace for using fossil fuels in order to power its data centers. However, it was revealed in October that the company was planning to build a solar farm near its newly constructed $1 billion Project Dolphin data center located in Maiden, North Carolina.
Source: Environmental Leader – Apple Files Patent for Laptop Fuel Cell