TECH KNOW: The people and products shaping your future - Things to come ... Methane-powered mobiles

TECH KNOW: The people and products shaping your future - Things to come ... Methane-powered mobiles - 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.

by James Woudhuysen, James@Woudhuysen.com
Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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.

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