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Apple Looking into Fuel Cell Powered MacBooks

In recent few days, the reports have surfaced claiming that Apple is investigating the fuel powered notebooks that will be smaller and lighter than the existing battery-powered devices.

MacBook Pro Retina

The major source behind these reports is a couple of Apple patent applications published by US Patent and Trademark Office. Both these applications are entitles as “Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device” and “Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device.”

According to Apple’s recommended invention, the EPEAT or Electronic Product Environment Assessment Tool is a key to raise consumer awareness of the environmental friendliness of electronic devices. Furthermore, at all highly advertised keynote events, Apple generally spotlights the EPEAT ratings of its products.

Apple through its filings claims that “As a consequence of increased consumer awareness, electronics manufacturers have become very interested in renewable energy sources for their products, and they have been exploring a number of promising renewable energy sources such as hydrogen fuel which is used in hydrogen fuel cells.”

Based on the Apple’s proposed fuel cell system, the future MacBooks will last for days or even weeks without the need to recharge. In fact, the fuel cell won’t run on fuel, but on hydrogen along with a current power source in the each device.

Patent 11


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The filings from Apple state, “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. These problems have led to an increasing awareness and desire on the part of consumers to promote and use renewable energy sources.”

Patent 21

The explanation given by the Cupertino-based company is quite justifiable and their solution for the cause though limited to MacBooks does have some weight:

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.

We can expect to have relatively smaller and lighter MacBooks, but with considerably longer battery life somewhere in future. The path is not all straight for Apple for sure. It is a test of Apple’s capabilities to present their idea in a concrete form and that too in a cost-effective way. It is still a long way to go before we can expect to have MacBooks with advanced fuel cell system incorporated within them.

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