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Hydrogen & Fuel Cells

Hydrogen fuel cells for eco-friendly smartphones

Hydrogen fuel cells for eco-friendly smartphones
The hydrogen generating sheets are sealed in laminated aluminum to prevent degradation.

Collaboration between Japanese semiconductor supplier ROHM, Kyoto-based fuel cell manufacturer Aquafairy Corporation and Kyoto University has resulted into the development of high-efficiency hydrogen fuel cells specially designed for smartphones and other portable devices.

The three parties have developed a fuel cell using calcium hydride, which can generate hydrogen when water is added in a process known as hydro-synthesis. The fuel cells are about one-fourth the weight of conventional batteries but can have the same capacity.

“The hydrogen fuel cells are compact and can operate at ambient temperatures, making them suitable for use in smartphone chargers, tablet personal computers, as power sources outdoors and in remote areas, and in emergency backup power supplies,” said ROHM.

So far, the collaboration has developed and tested three types of these fuel cells. The first is designed for smartphones with a capacity of 5 watts per hour; the second has an output of 200 watts per hour and can be used as a portable power generatior; lastly a 400 watt hour fuel cell, developed in collaboration with Kinkei Systems is meant to be used for seismometers.

These fuel cells can overcome the limitations of dry cells, lithium-ion batteries and direct methanol fuel cells by significantly reducing weight and increasing output while providing a higher level of safety and efficiency, according to ROHM.

The new fuel cells use sheets of calcium hydride sealed and laminated in aluminium which saves them from degradation. It’s estimated they can continue to store and provide energy for over 20 years. The 20 year life span is a vast improvement over both dry cells and lithium-ion cells which have a shelf life of three to five years.

Currently, ROHM, Aquafairy and Kyoto University are working together to assess the reliability of the hydrogen fuel cells and improve the innovation before the expected roll out in April 2013.

The technology will be demonstrated in the upcoming Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies in October at Tokyo and in the trade fair Electronica in November at Munich, Bavaria, Germany. – EcoSeed Staff

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