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Fuel cell triples battery life

Posted: 28 Feb 2002 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:lawrence livermore national laboratory? miniature thin-film fuel cell? portable electrical power? fuel cell?

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a miniature thin-film fuel cell which could provide portable electrical power for a range of consumer electronics, including mobile phones. The team believes the fuel cell will last 300 percent longer than a standard battery of the same size.

The extended life of the fuel cell could stretch standby time in a mobile phone from four days to two weeks, and talk time from 6h to two days.

Similar to a device proposed by Motorola Laboratories, the methanol-powered device uses a combination of microfluidic components and microelectromechanical systems technology.

A thin layer of electrolyte material is sandwiched between electrode materials which contain catalyst materials. Microfluidic control elements distribute the fuel mixtures through a silicon chip over one electrode surface while air is simultaneously distributed over the other electrode.

Integrated resistive heaters heat the electrolyte-electrode layers, increasing the conduction of catalytically generated protons from the fuel supply across the electrolyte to the air breathing electrode, where they combine with oxygen to generate electrical current.

? Joanne Aslett

EE Times

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