With an escalating array of features, including TV reception, supported by ever greater capacity of microchips, what’s to keep cellphones from adding functions with ever increasing complexity? Power. Even advanced lithium-ion batteries are being overwhelmed by the demands of new functions and an increase in flat-rate services for calls and data transmissions, which have lengthened the duration phones are used. Cellphone carriers are accelerating development of fuel cells to meet subscribers’ demand for longer operating times and upgraded functions.
However, many hurdles must be cleared before the next-generation batteries are adopted. Fuel cells generate electricity through chemical reactions of oxygen in the air and hydrogen supplied from fuel, such as methanol. A wide range of problems have to be resolved before fuel cells are commercialized for cellphone use. Not all the problems are technical. International aviation regulations, for example, prohibit passengers from bringing flammable methanol on board. Continue>>