H2 Oh! The Next Step in Battery Life

The holy grail right now for laptop developers has to be extending the life of our little wonders batteries doesn’t it? At best we get about three to four hours from our portable beasts when we are on the road, and with the power hungry nature of the new tech that is crammed into the increasingly smaller notebooks, Lithium Ion seems to be really old hat. So what does the future bring? For my money solar power has to be the way forward, but then you wouldn’t have to buy another battery ever, and that would be pure anathema to our consumer driven world.

So the next step looks like it’s hydrogen based fuel cells. A new jersey company, Millennium Cell, are working on a prototype, which they are using to run an IBM ThinkPad X40 notebook PC right now. The fuel cell battery uses sodium borohydride stored in a cassette tape sized box, it then pumps the chemicals through and produces hydrogen which in turn moves to the fuel cell and mixes with oxygen and produces electricity, the water produced by the reaction disappears as a vapour.

Clever eh?

So until we all wear solar panels on the back of our caps this looks like the future, expect to see these fuel cells in laptops in about 2 years time.

By Ian Bandy

Sunday, March 06, 2005