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NED MOAR POWR?  (Source: The Telegraph)
One bowl of beans could power your notebook for hours

There are a bunch of people in the gadget world that have been waiting and waiting for laptops and notebooks that run on power sources other than traditional batteries. The most obvious source of power for the machines, other than batteries, is fuel cells.

Prototype fuel cell notebooks have popped up a few times over the years, but still no one has offered up a fuel cell powered notebook. Scientists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have made a breakthrough that may help notebooks powered by methane fuel cells make it to market faster. The research is led by Shiriram Ramanathan and the team is optimistic about potential commercial uses of their tech.

The researchers have published a paper that demonstrates a new type of functional all-ceramic thin-film solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFCs) that doesn't have platinum in its construction. The high price of platinum is one of the reasons that fuel cells have been so expensive and stayed out of production along with the production of heat and issues with reliability.

The platinum tends to wear fast in many fuel cells and leads to poor reliability, but the research team's breakthrough with its new fuel cell design may address that reliability issue. "If you use porous metal electrodes," explains Ramanathan, "they tend to be inherently unstable over long periods of time. They start to agglomerate and create open circuits in the fuel cells."

The team also published another paper where they outlined a methane-fueled micro-SOFC that is able to operate at under 500C, which is rare. SOFCs typically operate at around 800C making them practical for stationary power where the high temperatures can be dealt with. Researchers and scientists are trying to whittle temperatures that the fuel cells operate at down to 300C where they will be more appealing for use in mobile applications.

The use of methane as a fuel is important as well, since most fuel cells run on hydrogen that has to be pure and is expensive to make. Methane is abundant and cheap. "Future research at SEAS will explore new types of catalysts for methane SOFCs, with the goal of identifying affordable, earth-abundant materials that can help lower the operating temperature even further," adds Ramanathan.

Panasonic has shown off a hydrogen fuel cell powered notebook that it hopes to have on the market by 2012.

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In other news....
By EasyC on 11/24/2010 11:16:31 AM , Rating: 5
Stocks for baked bean companies rose 300% today while Steve Jobs finally allows his sheep to fart.

RE: In other news....
By EasyC on 11/24/2010 11:23:40 AM , Rating: 5
Tomorrows article will show a patent application by Apple for the act of farting.

RE: In other news....
By Motoman on 11/24/2010 11:41:27 AM , Rating: 5
Consumer: This iFart kinda stinks...

Jobs: You're smelling it wrong.

RE: In other news....
By amanojaku on 11/24/2010 1:20:57 PM , Rating: 3
Introducing the new iPoot Much.

Now with FartTime, Rip One Today, and Gas Center.

This cheeses everything. Again.

RE: In other news....
By 1reader on 11/24/2010 1:45:21 PM , Rating: 1
What do you think this means for the 143,000 fart apps? Probably deletion for duplication of functionality.

RE: In other news....
By YashBudini on 11/25/2010 8:58:28 PM , Rating: 3
Who would have imagined technology being sparked by "Blazing Saddles?"

Uh, perhaps sparked is the wrong word.

RE: In other news....
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pros and cons?
By superPC on 11/24/2010 11:19:03 AM , Rating: 2
methane fuel cell is great. if it were to be released for cars it would be even better than hydrogen. methane is much easier to handle (not much different than CNG that has been used for years in vehicles), didn't diffuse through container as easily as hydrogen and we can make it cheaply from organic waste decomposition.

but to use fuel cell and methane in our electronic? is that a good idea? what would happened to our gadget when we board an airplane if we had methane in it? people are smart enough to hide explosive in printer toner ( ). terorist would have a field day with methane container in electronic devices.

RE: pros and cons?
By gmw1082 on 11/24/2010 12:11:19 PM , Rating: 3
It will be fine as long as Sony doesn't get involved.

RE: pros and cons?
By KnightBreed on 11/24/2010 12:11:49 PM , Rating: 3
Don't worry. The TSA won't allow you on the plane with it anyway. Problem solved.

You know, unless you actually want to use your laptop. But who does that anyway, besides everybody.

RE: pros and cons?
By Solandri on 11/26/2010 12:40:09 AM , Rating: 2
Just eat a bunch of beans before your flight and go through TSA with an empty methane canister. Once you're past security, you can refill the canister with a Flatulence Aggregating Reclamation Tool.

RE: pros and cons?
By AnnihilatorX on 11/24/2010 12:22:42 PM , Rating: 2
Methane is 80 times as potent molecule by molecue, a greenhouse gas as CO2 in the atmosphere.

For fuel cell in electronics I don't see why they don't use methanol instead, which is a liquid and even easier to handle than canisters of gas.

RE: pros and cons?
By tng on 11/25/2010 1:44:44 PM , Rating: 2
I had seen several companies that were testing fuel cells using Methanol (ST in Europe comes to mind).

They had a prototype device that you would just add a drop of methanol to every 100 hours to power it. Had issues of course, but more practical than a hydrogen or methane.

RE: pros and cons?
By ganjha on 11/25/2010 9:47:50 AM , Rating: 2
Methane is used as fuel for cars, and does not require much alteration to the engine.

Here is a company that collects methane from landfills in Iceland and sells it as fuel for cars.

By mkrech on 11/24/2010 11:12:30 AM , Rating: 2
so much for traveling with your laptop.

RE: TSA...
By Drag0nFire on 11/24/2010 12:15:12 PM , Rating: 2
I'm more worried about the safety of my lap. 300 C?!

RE: TSA...
By Breathless on 11/24/2010 12:41:23 PM , Rating: 2
I'm more worried that my new laptop will smell like farts.

300 degrees Celcius good for mobile applications?!?!
By Qapa on 11/24/2010 5:39:45 PM , Rating: 2
Am I reading this correctly?

Aren't those 800, 500, 300 values mentioned missing a decimal point somewhere... like: 80.0, 50.0 and 30.0 ??

And even so, 30ºC is still way high... or at least I wouldn't want my phone to be at 30ºC!!
Now for a laptop, they usually already have parts at those temperatures, but I also don't like that anyway...

By Paj on 11/25/2010 7:52:08 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, 300C is waaay to hot?

30C is very cold for a laptop. GPUs in a laptop are often rated at over 100C, although you wouldnt want to run them that hot for long

Explosive Batteries of Cell Phones.
By greylica on 11/24/2010 12:57:22 PM , Rating: 2
Do you remember those last explosive Cell Phones ?
Now, imagine a Cell Phone with this technology. Now imagine you sitting on and farting to charge your Cell Phone Battery...
Now, imagine you got some strange food and the possibility of an overcharge....


"We basically took a look at this situation and said, this is bullshit." -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng's take on patent troll Soverain
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