back to article Intelligent Energy secures $7.5m to develop smartphone fuel cell

Fuel cell specialist Intelligent Energy has announced that it has signed a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) with “an emerging smartphone OEM” to develop an embedded hydrogen fuel cell for powering smartphones for up to a week. The £5.25m ($7.5m) project will develop a fuel cell that will coexist with the smartphone’s existing …

  1. Chris G Silver badge

    Foot in the door

    I like this from the point of view that it's a start on an alternative energy supply to normal batteries and obviously with continued development it may become both more affordable as well as usable. Anyone have an idea of the relative differences in energy density/gramme between these cells and li-po batteries?

    1. Faux Science Slayer

      IGNORANT Alternatives to REAL Energy

      When are you science FICTION fed fools going to wake up ?

      Hydrogen is the lightest element, highly reactive and Hindenberg level explosive. Due to low energy density it is quickly exhausted. It takes magnitudes more energy to create Hydrogen, H2 gas than is in the isolated gas. Learn some useful "Life Cycle Cost" analysis on the photocell scam...

      "Green Prince of Darkness" at FauxScienceSlayer site....(and grow up)

  2. werdsmith Silver badge

    Maplin sell a couple of hydrogen fuel cell kits, one by Fischertechnik which is a kit for assembly and is solar powered for education, and some other ones by Brunton which I think use similar process to this one.

    1. Efros

      We have a similar one to that at school, small solar panel linked to an H fuel cell. The whole thing mounted on a lightweight buggy chassis, power output is, to say the least, uninspiring. It will be interesting to see how it is implemented and what the source of hydrogen will be i.e. will it be from renewable energy or like a lot of the other 'green' fuels actually dependent on fossil fuel electricity generation.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        I think from a hydrolyser.

        Fond memories of the Hydrated sodium sulphate and washing up liquid hydrogen soap bubbles experiment at school where we ignited hydrogen in suds off the palms of our hands.

  3. DropBear

    "What fuel cells promise for IoT devices is a technology that can provide a lot more power than lithium ion batteries can in the equivalent power to weight/footprint form factor."

    Yes! Because nothing compares to the warm and fuzzy feeling of safety that comes with having a hydrogen fuel cell smouldering along in everything from your wall thermostat to your smart lightbulb, while you're not at home...!

    1. Chris G Silver badge

      You can say the same for li- po s, I noticed the cover on my mate's play station was coming off, when I looked closer the Sony battery was double its normal thickness. When I told him how dangerous it could be he didn't believe until I shot a hole in it with an air rifle, not an explosion but a decent fire that could start something worse.

      As a statistic such a thing is relatively low compared to the numbers of Li-pos out there, the same will apply eventually with hydrogen cells if they take off, A larger market and greater experience curve will drive development to the point where such things are an every day item and safe enough to be so.

    2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      What was the slogan?

      "Come home to a real fire!"

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the biggest limitation we have in achieving true connectivity"

    Is not actually battery life - it is security at the hardware level.

    Battery life (or lack of) is a nuisance, to be sure, but everywhere you can hope to get a connection, you generally have access to a wall socket or a USB charger. If you go out of range of either, there's a good chance you won't have connectivity either.

    What we really need is secure-by-design IoT. Another thing would be IoT that is actually useful and not just for hipsters, but that can wait until security is baked in from the start.

  5. Trigonoceps occipitalis Silver badge

    Butane and Lighters

    If the hydrogen can be supplied if a refill and put into the phone in a fashion similar to refilling a butane lighter it could work.

    Next for the back of my fag packet, the grand unified theory of everything. Simple ideas are seldom simple to implement.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Butane and Lighters

      I'd be interested in a comparison between butane fuel cells and hydrogen fuel cells. I don't know if the refill port for the butane fuel cells is the same as for, say, butane lighters. [Of course, hydrogen fuel cells are so much more green until you examine where the power for they hydrogen generation is usually coming from.] However, the idea of popping into a shop and getting another hydrogen canister is pretty appealing, which is definitely not Intelligent Energy has as their ideal logistics model, i.e. (pun intended) replacement fuel cell packs at a high consumer cost rather than a refill canisters.

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge


    I'm probably missing the obvious here... As a standalone charging unit, the offering makes a lot of sense for a niche set of consumers, looking for something to keep their mobile devices charged while they are on outdoor excursions and away from the grid.

    If I'm off on an outdoor excursion, say into the woods, why would worry about my smartphone not working? I take it "off the grid" means power only and not coverage but where I go, there's no coverage either.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      There are many services that a phone, or in my case tablet, can provide beyond phone/SMS/internet functionality. GPS immediately comes to mind, especially if you have offline mapping capability. I've also got quite a few surveying apps including those for RF related purposes. Lastly a ton of reference material and other reading (and no, no porn). Not everything has to be about communicating with others, but I'm wired to be anti-social.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        Thanks for that, Jack. I can see that. The way the article was written made it sound like if you couldn't call or text someone from the woods was crisis. I go there just for that reason alone.

  7. Jan 0 Silver badge

    What happened to the micro gas turbine generators that we were promised?

    Despite people being frightened about exhaust temperatures, they should be as safe as a hydrogen* powered fuel cell and produce no more heat, at the surface, than the battery in your 'phone today.

    Unless you're the sort of person who cuts the labels out of clothes, to save weight, I've found that a modest solar panel and an external battery will keep iphone GPS going day after day in most places (not if you're caving:).

    *petrol is truly frightening in comparison, but we've found ways to cope with that too.

  8. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Great. Users of the "I can't find the any key" variant fiddling around with hydrogen cartridges. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Neanderthal Man

      "What could possibly go wrong?"

      Some of them survive, propagate inferior genes.

  9. eric.verhulst(Altreonic)

    Expensive proof of concept

    7.5 million? For a device that is inferior to a normal battery. Just connect a solar cell if you need some power in the wild or carry some extra with you. I see no added value in this hydrogen FC.

  10. Esme


    phone companies could offer phones that do voice, text and email and no more, that could run for a week off of current batteries.

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