The first hydrogen fuel cells [HFC], much like the first mobile phones, were large, bulky, and expensive. Technologies in various fields, such as metallurgy, electronics, and chemistry, have made the mobile phone, not only smaller, but more available than ever before.
With the advent of the smartphone, battery and smartphone manufacturers have been working to increase the power output of the batteries and reduce the drain on those batteries. It’s a never ending battle, that always ends with someone plugging in the charger.
Although still in various stages of development, HFCs have found their way into concept vehicles, portable power generators, even the space shuttle. Just like mobile phones have decreased in size and increased in power, exponentially even, HFCs, using advanced materials, have gotten smaller and more manageable.
A new micro-HFC, developed by researchers at Yale University, could possibly be developed to power personal electronics, including mobile phones, laptops, or tablet computers, eliminating the need to plug-in.
Utilizing a material known as “bulk metallic glass,” including zirconium and platinum compounds, Yale’s prototype fuel cell only measures 3cc and has a measurable output, which researchers are working on increasing. The key to the new materials, that they are strong yet flexible, makes them ideal for the hazardous conditions in your average pocket.
“These amorphous metal alloys are amazing materials that can be easily shaped into both large and small nanostructures, yet retain suitable properties for a wide range of electrochemical applications,” Yale chemical and environmental Professor Andre D. Taylor said.