Appleappears to be investigating the possibility of powering their Macbooks using fuel cells, which could lead to laptops that could be lighter and smaller than the Macbook Air, which is itself already less than an inch thick. The US Patent and Trademark Office published two patent applications last December 22, 2011 that indicated Apple’s intent on “coupling” fuel cells to a “portable computing device” to power it.
In the patent applications, Apple states that fuel cell powered portable computers can potentially last days or weeks without recharging, or in this case, refueling. The fuel cell system being proposed can power and receive power from a separate rechargeable battery. The most significant implication, however, is the possibility of completely replacing batteries with fuel cells. This would make portable devices much more portable than they already are, making them not just lighter and smaller, but also possibly less costly – not to mention it could allow them to operate longer without having to refuel.
Fuel cells in the form of fossil fuels are the predominant power source for automobiles and other devices, though its use in laptops is unprecedented. A fuel cell turns chemical reaction energy into electrical power. Today’s modern hydrogen-powered fuel cells can combine oxygen and hydrogen in a chemical reaction that can power cars and leave by-products similar in constitution to plain water.
Apple filed one patent application as far back as August 2010, and the other just April of this year.