Apple files patent for long-lasting fuel-cell MacBook battery system


Apple has filed two patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office that suggest the electronics giant is developing hydrogen fuel-cell batteries for its MacBook lines in an attempt to use more environmentally-friendly ways to power its creations. First uncovered by AppleInsider, the pair of patents (1, 2) explain that the batteries would not only be better for Mother Nature, but could also last “for days or even weeks” on a single charge.

“Our country’s continuing reliance on fossil fuels has forced our government to maintain complicated political and military relationships with unstable governments in the Middle East, and has also exposed our coastlines and our citizens to the associated hazards of offshore drilling,” states the two filings. “These problems have led to an increasing awareness and desire on the part of consumers to promote and use renewable energy sources.”

According to the filing, Apple is investigating a number of types of fuel cells. Hydrogen fuel-cells are the kind most often found in cars, but Apple points out in the filing that building a hydrogen fuel-cell system that can fit into a laptop is quite a challenge — though it’s a problem Apple is working to solve.

“As a consequence of this increased consumer awareness, electronics manufacturers have become very interested in developing renewable energy sources for their products, and they have been exploring a number of promising renewable energy sources such as hydrogen fuel cells,” states the filing. “Hydrogen fuel cells have a number of advantages. Such fuel cells and associated fuels can potentially achieve high volumetric and gravimetric energy densities, which can potentially enable continued operation of portable electronic devices for days or even weeks without refueling. However, it is extremely challenging to design hydrogen fuel cell systems which are sufficiently portable and cost-effective to be used with portable electronic devices.”

As we all know too well, just because Apple is developing something doesn’t mean it will ever make it to market. But considering that consumers have begun to expect more environmentally-friendly gadgets, as the filing says, and that this new technology could also result in much longer battery life, it would be a shame if this dream never becomes a reality.

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