back to article World's smallest working fuel cell developed

The world’s smallest working fuel cell has been created. It measures a paltry 3mm across. Worlds_smallest_fuel_cell_01 Generates 1mA of current A researcher at the University of Illinois, where the 3 x 3 x 1mm hydrogen-fuelled “micro fuel cell” was developed, said it’s able to generate power without consuming any itself, …


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  1. Lionel Baden

    cheap electricity

    Ohhh i do hope so

    This one will get my hopes up big time.

    Yes i know it unlikley to work on a industrial scale. but the advances made in micro technology will sooner or later negate the need for industrial scale electrical supply.

    Ahh i wish i were born 30 years ago or 300 years in the future

    Now sux

  2. Anonymous Coward

    call me anal but....

    1mA isn't a power

  3. Tim Warren

    Hydrogen RC Car... that's rubbish!

    Now a Hydrogen powered RC Plane... now you're talking...

  4. Matthew Ellen


    Can you hook up the micro cells in parallel? Then you can generate an amp with 1000, and it would barely take up any space. 3m x 3m x 1m is quite large for 1 KA I suppose. How much power do you need?

  5. Steve

    power or current

    "Generates 1mA of power"

    It generates 1mA of current (power and current are two different units).

    Assuming it still yields 0.7V, and holds that at 1mA, then it can be said to give 0.7mW of power!

  6. Thomas Davie

    Not bad at all

    Considering you could pack 800 of these into the space of an AA battery (with no connections though), that's not shabby at all. The question is, how long can it provide its 1mA for?

  7. Ed

    "Generates 1mA of power"

    No it doesn't!

    It sources 1mA of CURRENT if you like, but the power is dependant on the potential difference across which is can push that much current. According to the article they have a 0.7V p.d. so that's 0.7mW of power.

    At the suggested 30hours of life, this gives 21mWh of energy. This compares well with an SR63 Silver Oxide watch battery, of 5.8mm dia and 2.1mm thick, also with a capacity of 21mWh

  8. swulf


    Damn, and I just *registered* specifically to complain about you captioning the pic 'Generates 1mA of power'!

    A thousand curses on your swift correction!

  9. Ken Hagan Gold badge


    In fairness, the New Scientist article got the units confused too, and El Reg can't be expected to get it right unless one of you proposes an El Reg unit of electrical charge.

    (Power would be easy, something like "whale Wales per cubic fag-break", unless I've goofed the dimensions, which is perfectly possible because (shock) I don't do this very often.)

  10. Tom


    "The first designs generated 0.7 volts and a current of 0.1 milliamps for 30 hours before the fuel ran out, but Moghaddam says the latest designs give currents of around 1 milliamp at a similar voltage," from the linked article. Also "That bulky fuel takes up a lot of room and so the power density falls. But measured as a volume, the power density of the new fuel cell is a relatively high 100 watts per litre, he says."

    Cool work. It should be interesting to see how it develops. Of course the other big question is the cost of production, and how much energy is consumed in producing the fuel cell.

  11. Edwin


    Power is, of course, measured in Ballmers per Jobses, with Ballmer providing the current (measured in units of office furniture) and Jobs providing the potential (measured in terms of iProducts shipments)

    And 10l of low-pressure hydrogen per tank? That's a big car, methinks!

  12. Andy ORourke

    Filling with water.........

    Might bring a whole new meaning to "topping up your mobile"

  13. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    Sounds to me

    Like it is using up its internal supply of metal hydride to generate the hydrogen, so isn't it just a glorified chemical battery?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    water vapour?

    sweat-powered netbooks, anyone? Oxters full of tiny fuel cells, and off you go...

  15. Will

    Way to infinge trademarks

    I'm sure Horizon's Hobby RC division ( are soon going to be getting a letter from Horizon Hobby ( over certain trade mark issues...

    Fail gentlemen, fail.

  16. Tom Chiverton


    "able to generate power without consuming any itself"

    No, that would be perpetual motion, which is impossible.

  17. Andrew Kelly


    I think you will find that power is measued on BallmerJobs. Ballmers per Jobs is current divided by voltage which I will leave to some other clever dick to tell us what that is.

  18. Ilya

    @ Tom Chiverton

    It could consume the raw materials required for its internal reactions to occur until it ceases to generate power, all without consuming any external power. I believe that's what the sentence is saying. I don't see a reason to look at it any other way.

  19. Pierre

    @ Edwin

    "And 10l of low-pressure hydrogen per tank? That's a big car, methinks!"

    I thought so at first. Then I got it. (hint: the canisters probably actually contain hydrogen in its liquid form)

  20. Rick Dickinson


    "the canisters probably actually contain hydrogen in its liquid form"

    Not likely, as I don't see a bunch of insulation surrounding them (liquid hydrogen is one of the coldest cryogens).

    It's much more likely that the hydrogen gas is adsorbed under pressure onto the surface of some material within the tank, and is released back by the pressure reduction as some of the gas is drawn from the tank as it's used.

  21. Pete

    I can't see an application for something so tiny...

    Mobile phones for mice? jetpacks for bumblebees?

  22. Lukin Brewer

    Frank Zappa would have approved.

    Just what you need to run a "City of Tiny Lites"!

    City of tiny lites,

    This will make it go,

    See the tiny 'lectric cars,

    Silent, don't you know?

    Tiny units, milliamp hour,

    Tiny fuel cells keep it powered...

  23. Christian Berger

    Wow 0.7 mW

    That's enough to power a whole digital electronic computer.

  24. Charles Manning

    @ Ken Hagan - bollocks excuse.

    If The Reg can't find a staff member that can tell the difference between current and power then I suggest they stay the fsck away from reporting anything about electiricy etc. The whole article just look like a cut and paste out of a blog.

    As for nature cocking up. That's inexcusable.

    Reg: stick with shit you understand... like Paris and biorhythms

  25. wim
    Thumb Down

    back to the future

    for el reg

    El reg

    Three metal hydride canisters each contain 10l of low-pressure hydrogen gas and the design will be available to buy online in April

    horizon fuell cell

    The H-cell upgrade integration kit comes in an elegant casing and has started first prototype shipments in April 2007.

    in my belief it is 2009 and will be available points to the future

    so how can something become available in 2007 while we are already in 2009 ?

    It would be nice if reporters actually read what is written instead of read what they are thinking.

  26. Tim Bates

    Re: I can't see an application for something so tiny...

    Ummm.... And yet here you are using a computer... Are you aware of just how tiny some of the components are in your computer?

  27. Ed

    @Lionel Baden

    You and me both mate lol

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