Recharging phone, laptop and PDA batteries is a pain, and the coming of power-hungry mobile broadband will make it worse. PolyFuel, a spin-off of SRI International based at Menlo Park, California, hopes to introduce a lightweight power pack that promises to eliminate the hassle.
It's a miniature fuel cell - a reactor that turns fuel into electricity. Methanol, drawn from a replaceable cartridge, is broken down into protons, electrons and carbon dioxide. The protons pass through a proton exchange membrane, while the electrons pile up on a wire to produce electricity.
PolyFuel, whose backers include Intel, has done 14 years of patenting. On launch in '04 or '05, one cartridge will last three times as long as a regular battery, but its life could become much longer.