What Exactly Are Fuel Cells?

Everyone has heard a lot about fuel cells – mainly as a promising future energy source for cars and other vehicles, but now Apple has applied for two patents on using fuel cells in their iconic devices, the iPhone and the iPad. The use of these technologies would make it possible to provide small devices with extended battery life of days or even weeks – without charging.

But what is a fuel cell?

Fuel cells are largely like a battery but with a constant fuel supply they won’t run down, hence they don’t need to be recharged. They feature two electrodes inside, with oxygen and hydrogen passing over one of them and thus generating electricity, alongside water and heat. The principle of its operation is more based on chemistry and not on combustion.

Where can you find them?

Fuel cells come in various designs using various chemical components, and they are applied in many fields. Besides the most commonly known market – vehicles, fuel cells are also used in several systems in hospitals, hotels, schools, offices, as well as telecommunications facilities, wastewater treatment plants, landfill plants, breweries or even wineries. As they are light and work well without the need for a connection to the electricity grid, they are also used by the military or emergency services.

And now Apple wants to use them in their devices, which therefore could become smaller, lighter, and don’t need to be charged as often as current ones. There are already some consumer electronics devices available with fuel cells but these are rather bulky.

Some gadgets today can also work with fuel cells, for instance kettles, portable chargers, and a fuel cell sticker has even been developed.

Why are fuel cells so promising?

First of all, due to their technology their carbon emissions are very low. Fuel cells are also highly efficient, reliable, flexible, and scalable. They are also quite light and thus can be used in many applications for which current batteries may be too big or heavy.

This means that they can offer a lot of possibilities for future energy storage, while still being environmentally friendly.

Written for the Energy Saving Warehouse

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