Motorola Inc. is developing a tiny fuel cell that could power laptops, cell phones and other electronic devices and last 10 times as long as traditional batteries, the company said today.
The cell technology, which company officials say is three to five years away from commercial availability, is being codeveloped by Motorola Labs and Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to a Motorola statement issued today.
The cells, now in prototype stage, measure just 1-inch square and less than one-tenth of an inch thick. They use liquid methanol, which when combined with oxygen, produces electricity.
Motorola has developed circuitry to convert the low voltage of a fuel cell to the higher voltage needed to power electronic devices, the company said.
Developers envision that the cells would be able to power a cell phone for more than a month. In addition, the cells would be replaced by simple cartridges, eliminating the need for battery chargers.
"Business people don't like to carry around rechargers," Scott Wyman, a Motorola spokesman, said in a telephone interview. "With the fuel cell, you would carry small cartridges like ink-pen cartridges that can be easily installed (in the device)."
The cells would also weigh far less than conventional batteries, allowing them to work with electronic devices that increasingly need more and longer-lasting power, Wyman said.
Once commercially released, users would be able to buy the cartridges at retail outlets that now sell conventional batteries, he added.
Motorola, based in Schaumburg, Illinois, can be reached at +1-847-576-5000, or at http://www.mot.com/.