A phone with 7-day battery life planned by fuel-cell maker

A fuel-cell powered phone could be on the market in two years if a partnership goes to plan.

A fuel-cell powered phone could be on the market in two years if a partnership goes to plan.

A British fuel-cell developer that was first to put the technology harnessing the power of hydrogen into London's distinctive black cab said it's working on a system that would allow mobile phone users to charge just once a week.

Intelligent Energy said an emerging smartphone maker will provide £5.25 million (NZ$11.4m) to develop a fuel cell small enough to be embedded in mobile phones.

The technology converts hydrogen into electricity, leaving only water vapor as a byproduct. It's spreading quickly at a bigger scale to drive commercial power generators used by businesses including the furniture retailer Ikea and investment bank Morgan Stanley to reduce emissions and ensure electricity supply.

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"Embedding fuel-cell technology into portable devices provides a solution to the current dilemma of battery life," Julian Hughes, acting managing director for Intelligent Energy's Consumer Electronics division, said in a statement.

"With consumers demanding more and more from their phones, battery innovation has not kept up."

A fuel-cell powered phone could be on the market in two years if the partnership goes to plan, Henri Winand, chief executive of Intelligent Energy, said in an interview.

"The killer app is a battery with a seven-day refresh life and we think that will appeal to everyone. It's not just for intrepid explorers," Winand said.

Intelligent Energy has been researching energy technology for more than 25 years and has more than 1000 patents. In addition to work on zero emissions taxis, it also worked with Boeing on the first manned aircraft powered by fuel cells.

The contract with the unnamed smartphone maker will allow Intelligent Energy to further develop a prototype fuel cell phone announced last year. It says that unit is best suited to people living without access to a power grid, such as large parts of Africa.

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 - Bloomberg

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