Intelligent Energy has announced a collaboration with Cable & Wireless Communications to test the use of Intelligent Energy’s fuel cell technology to power various mobile devices. The companies will start a user trial of a portable power device during the summer of 2013.
There is an ever-increasing need for greater amounts of power for our mobile electronic devices, but battery power has not kept pace. A study of mobile users in the UK (by Intelligent Energy) showed that 70% find themselves with a dead or nearly-dead battery on their mobile device at least once a week. So mobile operators are keen to find a solution.
Fuel cells are similar to batteries in that they generate electrical energy from a chemical reaction. But cells can use various fuels and produce constant levels of electrical energy while there is sufficient fuel to power the cell.
“Intelligent Energy’s cutting-edge technology offers a solution to power our device off-grid and provides a much longer operating life than a conventional battery. It’s attractive as it would unlock real additional revenue opportunities for telecom operators, enabling consumers to stay connected for longer and unshackled by the constraints of battery life”, said Mike Fawkner Corbett, Sure’s Head of Mobile. (Sure is the Cable & Wireless Communications brand involved in the collaboration).
Intelligent Energy’s interest in the consumer electronics market is an extension of its work in the stationary power sector, where the company offers back-up power systems for telecom towers in India. The company maintains that it’s portable fuel cell systems are durable, cost-effective and can be easily integrated into a wide range of distributed and portable electronic applications, from a laptop to a mobile phone.
Review: There has been a lot of talk in recent years about using fuel cells to power mobile devices, but the technology is only now reaching the usability stage and there’s still a lot of work to be done. Some see 2013 as the year that real solutions will emerge, although customer acceptance may take longer.
Intelligent Energy gave no details of the technology it has in mind, or whether this will be something built-in to devices or just a way to recharge them off-grid. I guess the announcement at the Mobile World Congress in February was mainly to establish that the two companies are working in the area.
But this is a technology that will come and promises to be more efficient, environmentally-friendly and reliable than the batteries we rely on now.