The day of the battery may finally be over as manufacturers usher in the age of the fuel-cell. To prove the point, an engineer from the Japanese electronics company Hitachi yesterday showed the world the pack that will power tomorrow’s mobile phone, laptop computer and personal organiser. The promise of fuel cells has built steadily over the years, with sporadic breakthroughs in size and efficiency. As gadgets from iPods to mobile phones become more complicated, their power demands will be greater and batteries will not be up to the task.
These demonstrations were among hundreds at the first Fuel-Cell Expo, held in Japan where engineers are the acknowledged leaders in the global race to develop clean, cheap, limitless power sources.
Fuel cells work on the principle that hydrogen, when passed through a carefully engineered “proton exchange” membrane, will split into its constituent positive and negative ions. The difference between these charges creates an electrical current on demand. Continue >>