Apple Gear Of Today Powered By Fuel Cell Of Tomorrow?

Is Apple seriously building a fuel-cell MacBook? That’s not exactly clear, but thanks to some sleuthing by AppleInsider it is apparent the company is exploring the possibility.

The Apple-watching website uncovered a couple of Apple patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. “Fuel Cell Sytem to Power a Portable Computing Device” is the name of one. The other is called, “Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device.”

image via Apple

The idea of using fuel-cell technology for portable devices isn’t new. Last year, in fact, Intel took a stake in fuel-cell portable charger company Lilliputian Systems. The lure of the technology is the possibility of delivering far greater and longer-lasting power. Lilliputian says it cell is five to 10 times more powerful by volume and 20 to 40 times more powerful by weight than a lithium-ion battery.

That said, as Apple noted in its filings, “it is extremely challenging to design hydrogen fuel cell systems which are sufficiently portable and cost-effective to be used with portable electronic devices.” This also isn’t the only type of clean energy tech Apple is studying – we’ve noted in the past, for example, a patent for solar panels on media players.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.