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Apple patent application  (Source: Apple Insider)

Apple patent application  (Source: Apple Insider)
Apple is looking to create, lighter, more efficient devices using fuel cells

Apple is interested in making fuel cell-powered mobile devices, according to Apple patent applications published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

According to two published Apple patent applications, called "Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device" and "Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device," Apple is looking to build lighter and smaller mobile devices like MacBooks (Air, Pro) by replacing current batteries with a fuel cell system.

This may not come as a surprise to many, since Apple has filed other patent applications for lighter hydrogen fuel cells. Those patents, which were brought to light this past October, described a building process where multiple fuel cells are connected by a power bus in a parallel pattern, and a voltage-multiplying circuit is added for additional voltage to the stack.

Now, Apple hopes to utilize these lighter, more efficient fuel cells in its mobile products in an effort to promote renewable energy sources and offer devices with the ability to run for days or even weeks without refueling, according to the patent applications. The devices will also be lighter and less bulky due to the lack of traditional batteries.

The first patent application, "Fuel Cell System to Power a Portable Computing Device," states Apple's case for wanting to use fuel cell technology in their devices. While current fuel cell technology for mobile products requires the user to carry a fuel cartridge for recharging purposes, Apple wants to integrate fuel cells right into their electronics.

The second patent application, "Fuel Cell System Coupled to a Portable Computing Device," describes how the fuel cell system would work with a rechargeable battery where one would power the other when necessary, and vice versa.

"This eliminates the need for a bulky and heavy battery within the fuel system, which can significantly reduce the size, weight, and cost of the fuel system," said the second patent application. "This fuel system includes a fuel stack cell which converts fuel into electrical power. It also includes a controller which controls operation of the fuel cell system."

One challenge will be creating a hydrogen fuel cell system that is cost-effective, according to Apple.

Both patents were filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2010.

Sources: CNET, Apple Insider



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RE: not again Apple
By dgingerich on 12/23/2011 2:22:23 PM , Rating: 3
If you think this is patentable, I should patent the idea of running crosshatch style when mowing a lawn to improve the appearance of the lawn, then sue all the people who use it without paying me a royalty.

There are patentable new ideas, and the technically "patentable" engineering implementations of things. This is definitely one of the latter, and the biggest reason why we need a full out overhaul of the patent office. It's not that the laws in place aren't good enough, it is that the patent office itself is granting patents that should never be granted.


RE: not again Apple
By nocturne_81 on 12/24/2011 5:22:18 AM , Rating: 2
You have to keep in mind that the USPTO basically only accepts applications.. The process of investigating prior art/patenting is supposed to be done by the filing party (or their attorney) prior to the filing. The USPTO doesn't actually research nor enforce any patent.

We've created another rubber-stamp agency in the name of the almighty 'free-market', putting any actual control in to the hands those who have enough cash to hire a team of lawyers to do their evil bidding.. Meanwhile, I still chuckle at all the 'professional' conservatives around here who take any opportunity to complain about 'big government' and how regulation ruins a free market.


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